Today’s puritan liberalism would probably say, “Don’t make a movie about a black policeman who is a corrupt brute,” but that is what Antoine Fuqua‘s Training Day, from 2001 (a different time), is. And that it is detached from such philistine orthodoxy makes the film that much more respectable. Denzel Washington is electric and never false as the rule-breaking Officer Alonzo, who treats the rookie cop he is “training” (Ethan Hawke) like excrement. Puritan liberalism would also say, “Don’t require Eva Mendes to purvey, however briefly, full-frontal nakedness (especially since she’s a woman of color),” but TD does require it.

It’s too bad the film is a far less realistic police thriller than something like The French Connection. For example, after Alonzo beats Hawke’s rookie to a pulp because Hawke tries to arrest him, the rookie has enough remaining strength to throw himself on the hood of Alonzo’s moving car. Ludicrous. Still, wildly improbable as the movie is, one can have a raw good time with it. It’s a harshly masculine eye-opener, urban with an appealing Los Angeles setting. (Appealing to me, anyway.) Needing, yes, a more mature script, Training Day is nevertheless pretty thrilling.