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The Ending Of Training Day Explained

Training Day came out way back in 2001 and starred Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke as two LAPD narcotics officers, showing the events that take place over the course of one day on the job. While it did have a solid script penned by future Suicide Squad screenwriter David Ayer, Training Day easily could have been yet another forgettable corrupt cop movie were it not for Washington's Academy Award-winning performance. The film follows greenhorn cop Jake Hoyt (Hawke) during his first day as a narc, accompanying Sgt. Alonzo Harris (Washington) on a 12-hour ride. While Alonzo claims to be the kind of cop who values street justice over legal justice, really he's just a corrupt cop who thinks he's above the law. He proceeds to subject Jake to all sorts of physical and mental torment, while also committing a crime every 15 minutes or so.

Alonzo is definitely not the hero of the movie, nor is he an anti-hero. He's the villain, and the audience isn't supposed to root for him. But if the movie had stuck with its original ending, it may not have worked at all. Here's why Training Day had to end the way it did. 

At the end of Training Day, a villain gets his comeuppance

Let's run down some of the crimes Alonzo commits during the movie. Right off the bat, he tricks Jake into smoking PCP and later uses this as leverage against him. He also repeatedly intimidates suspects and witnesses. Alonzo later fakes a search warrant to illegally enter a suspect's home and steal money. He and his team murder a drug dealer to steal $1 million from him — mind you, they submit $3 million from the bust as a police seizure, so there's that. And oh yeah, he hires a gang to murder Jake. Alonzo needs the money in order to square a debt with the Russian mafia after killing one of its members, but his many misdeeds eventually catch up to him. Jake manages to escape his impending doom at the hands of the gang and track down Alonzo. He then wrests the money away from him to prevent Alonzo from being able to satisfy the Russians' demands. As Alonzo heads to LAX to flee the country, he stops at a red light, which allows the Russians to catch up to him and gun him down. Ironically, actually abiding by a traffic law resulted in his death.

The original ending of the film was much more tame. As Denzel Washington later told Charlie Rose, Training Day's original ending had Alonzo die offscreen. Washington didn't think this punishment fit Alonzo's many, many crimes, so he fought for a different ending. In the theatrical version, Alonzo is torn to shreds by machine gun fire, a fitting, brutal death for a brutal character. But most of all, the justice is satisfying because it's not delivered by Jake or another police officer, but by the Russian mafia. Alonzo believed in street justice and it's exactly what he got.