Starring: Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke, Scott Glenn Director: Antoine Fuqua Category: IIB The most compelling thing about Denzel Washington opting to play the bad guy in Training Day is just what a brilliant bastard he can become. And who would have thought? This is the man who rose to fame and fortune exclusively on the back of good-guy roles: the brave slave in Glory (1989), the lead in Malcolm X (1992), the lawyer fighting discrimination in Philadelphia (1993) and so on. Here, though, Washington has crossed over to the dark side and for the audience it's a delight. He takes the lead in Training Day, playing a veteran Los Angeles Police Department narcotics cop, Sergeant Alonzo Harris, who takes on rookie Jake Hoyt (Ethan Hawke) for a day to see if he's cut out for a place on the drugs squad. While Hoyt starts the day all wide-eyed and nervous, he soon finds there's more - much more - to his new mentor than meets the eye. Facing Harris is like facing a firing squad; he's at the rookie from the start and doesn't let up for a second. What's worse is that Harris has not just crossed the fine line that separates good and evil on the street, he acts as though it simply doesn't exist. And he wants to get Hoyt in on the action. So the rookie is faced with a dilemma: does he follow the devious Harris and win acceptance to a job that will advance his career or does he stick to the straight and narrow and seemingly go nowhere? The problem is he can't decide whether Harris is leading him astray, or playing him for a fool during this initiation. While Hawke fits the bill perfectly, being sure and unsure of himself at almost the same moment, Training Day is dominated by Washington and his trash-talking turn as Harris. Director Antoine Fuqua shows he has evolved from the disappointing Chow Yun-fat vehicle The Replacement Killers (1998). This is at times a very hard watch - its representation of life on the streets is as uncompromising as you'll find - but Fuqua keeps you nailed to the seat. And his casting of Washington is pure genius. It's a dirty job, but you'll be glad Washington got to do it. Training Day opens on December 6.