Aside from the fact that Denzel Washington won on Oscar for this film there was very little I knew about it going in to watch the film. I was expecting an action-thriller and that it was I got – except that it much more thrilling than I anticipated.


Screen shot 2014-08-05 at 13.22.27Opening with family man Hoyte (Ethan Hawke) eating breakfast and saying goodbye to his family as he embarks on his first day in the narcotics department of the LAPD I was instantly drawn into his character. However as soon as Washington appears on screen Hoyte is almost forgotten as Washington dominates the film as the slightly-crazed rule-breaking cop Alonso.

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As Alonso shows the newbie around the city it soon becomes clear that the film will be about Hoyte’s journey into the unknown and how far he many rules he is willing to break in order to land his dream job. There is an instant rivalry between the two characters as they fight for dominance over each other and although Alonso often seems to be in control there are times when you can see he is not. This subtlety showcases the skill of Denzel Washington as a performer and helps make the film simply marvellous.

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One thing I particularly like about the film was its ambiguity; no character is written as ‘the good guy’ and there is always a thin line between right and wrong. Sure you want to back Hoyte as he seems to have the most morales but these are increasingly tested and we see he is also not so perfect as one might think. These ‘grey’ characters are what turn a fairly boring narrative into a thrilling ride and once again not enough can be said for the performances.


The film creates a super-realistic world with nothing extravagant in it; everything feels real and as if it is something that happens and this helps enhance the horribleness of the corruption and how deep it goes. The film has a point to make about society and makes it well.


To sum up I thoroughly enjoyed this film as a tense thrill and it the first film of this challenge that I say I wouldn’t mind watching again and I score it as follows.


Story – 4/5

Style – 4/5

Technical – 5/5

Enjoyment – 4/5


The film therefore gets an 8/10