Originality. Yes, there’s structure, pacing, character, a million things to worry about… but beyond everything, a screenplay NEEDS to be original. Originality can come in many forms. You can have an original idea, original structure, original dialogue, or in the case of the Training Day script… one of the most original characters we’ve ever seen.

Let’s learn how writer David Ayer did it.

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Training Day Script Teardown - David Ayer Headshot

WHO WROTE Training day SCRIPT?

Written by David Ayer

A former member of the US Navy, David Ayer got kicked out of his house and dropped out of high-school as a teenager. He ended up living with his cousin in South Central LA.

Not coincidentally, the majority of Ayer’s films take place in LA: The Fast and the Furious (2001), Training Day (2001), Dark Blue (2002), S.W.A.T (2003), Harsh Times (2005), Street Kings (2008), End of Watch (2012), Bright (2017), and The Tax Collector (2020). 

That’s a lot of LA cop movies!

David Ayer was 32 when his first screenplay reached theaters. He had been working as an electrician prior. 

STORY BREAKDOWN

STRUCTURE OF TRAINING DAY SCRIPT

Here is the story structure for the Training Day screenplay:

Exposition

Jake Hoyt wakes up to his wife and young child. He’s nervous about his first day, and we quickly learn his trainer isn’t like the others:

“Patrol fairies go to roll call. We don’t go to roll call.”

“No. You won't. You fucked that up. Please. I’m Reading. Shut Up.”

Inciting Incident

No clear inciting incident, Jake is along for the ride as Alonzo takes him through a crazy first day. They get into the car on page 9, the first action comes on page 18 when they bust some college kids for weed.

Plot Point One

Alonzo puts a gun to Jake’s head and tells him to get out of his car unless Jake smokes the blunt. Jake complies. Page 22.

Rising Action

Alonzo takes Jake through the city, testing him left and right, teaching him the rules of the street, most of which Jake doesn’t agree with.

Midpoint

Alonzo busts into a house without a warrant. Afterward, Jake tells him “I think you’re a rogue cop.” Again, Alonzo opens the door — stick with me or go become a patrol cop. Once again, Jake stays. Page 57.

Plot Point Two

Alonzo and a team of cops kill Roger (who we met earlier) and take his money. Jake hates every bit of it and is forced into compliance through the barrel of a gun. Not the first time that’s happened today. Page 82.

Build Up

Alonzo leaves Jake to the cholos, but Jake escapes thanks to some good-will. Jake takes the bus back to the cul-de-sac to face Alonzo, no longer playing the game.

Climax

Jake and Alonzo square off in the cul-de-sac. A shootout in the bedroom, a rooftop chase that transfers to the “G-ride” and finishes in the street in front of everyone.

Finale

Alonzo shows up late to the airport without the cash. He’s killed mercilessly. Jake goes back to his simple home.

Training Day Character Analysis

Training Day characters — Alonzo

Even though Jake (Ethan Hawke) is a protagonist, Alonzo (Denzel Washington) makes this movie. We brought the Training Day screenplay into StudioBinder's screenwriting software so we could investigate these critical moments on the page. Here’s how Alonzo is introduced:

Alonzo Harris Introduction  •  Read Full Scene

In contrast, here’s how Jake’s introduced:

Jake Hoyt Introduction  •  Read Full Scene

“A fit young man.” I know which role I’d rather have.

Both Training Day characters are well-done, but Alonzo is an outstanding character. He controls the screen. His performance, his rationalizations, his world is incredible. This movie rides on the back of Denzel’s performance, and he deservingly won the Oscar for it.

Let’s look at Alonzo’s introduction scene in more depth.

Training Day Character Analysis  •  Read Full Scene

The writing is aggressive, it leaves no doubt who Alonzo is:

  • He doesn’t look at Jake when he sits down
  • He tells Jake to shut up within a page
  • He’ll cheat on his wife in a heartbeat


Alonzo is the center of his own universe, something we’ll come to understand more and more as the movie goes on.

It’s important to note, in the hands of another actor, this movie does not work. Denzel needs to be a hard-nose badass. 

But his character isn’t quite so one dimensional. He’s incredibly cunning, manipulative, and convincing. The streets have taught him well.

Denzel Washington Monologue Training Day

In this scene, Alonzo needs Jake to play along and make a falsified crime report. He NEEDS it. In the past, when Alonzo held all the cards, his technique has been to put a gun to Jake’s head or force him out of the car.

Jake has a few cards here — not all, but some. Alonzo needs to get Jake to cooperate. To do so, Alonzo gets sentimental, meets Jake at a place of understanding, and offers him an opportunity.

“My guys are pretty good but they’re not leaders, they're clowns. You’re a leader. You want my job, you got it.”

Jake has seen the real Alonzo at this point. He has doubts, but Alonzo sways Jake one more time.

Moments like this occur time and time again. This movie might as well be a documentary called “How to Navigate South-Central LA.” Want a Training Day summary? This scene explains the Training Day characters as well as any and shows why Alonzo is one of the best movie villains ever.

Training Day Quotes

Training Day quotes are powerful

With a character like Alonzo and a story about the LA streets, you’re gonna get some notable quotes. Training Day is full of them, and most have to do with manhood, but perhaps the most iconic one is Alonzo’s King Kong rant.

Let’s see how it looked in script form:

Training Day King Kong Scene Script  •  Read Full Scene

But wait, where’s the King Kong speech? Where's the Pelican Bay line? The long monologue? The iconic Training Day quotes? Well, turns out those lines were either improvised on the spot or added later, either way, it’s not in the Training Day script.

Here’s what that scene looked like in the movie.

Denzel Washington Monologue Training Day

That’s a whole lot more than the script had and it’s undoubtedly more interesting. Again, Denzel is the reason Training Day works.

Here are the other notable Training Day quotes :

  • Alonzo: Good. Gonna show you reality. Think you can handle it?
  • Jake: I'll do anything you want me to do.
  • Alonzo: I got four kids. All boys. You want a son, lemme know. I'll do your old lady up. I can't miss.
  • Jake: You gotta control your smiles and cries. No one can take them away so... they're all we really have.
  • Alonzo: You protect the flock by catching the wolves. And it takes a wolf to catch a wolf.
  • Alonzo: Shut up, boot! Nothin' but shit 'tween your ears. They build prisons cause a me! Judges have handed out fifteen thousand man years of incarceration time based on my investigations. My record speaks for itself. How many felons have you collared? Dickhead.
  • Alonzo: I don't deny my shit stinks. I will never deny that. So why do I got the best arrest and conviction record in the county. Why? 'Cause I don't handicap myself with bullshit.
  • Alonzo: Gun! Gun! Gun! If this shit shakes you up, go back to Division and cry to the Watch Commander. He'll find you a nice job lighting flares and measuring wrecks. Decide now if you want to be a wolf or a sheep. If you want on my squad, I'll sign your card.
  • Jake: No fun when the rabbit has the gun, is it?
  • Jake: Told you. It's my evidence. My proof. Wanna go to jail. Or you wanna go home?
  • Jake: It's street justice. Nothing wrong with that. Right?
  • Alonzo: I wanna get shit done.
  • Alonzo: Nothing's free in this world. Not even an arrest warrant.


They’re unsurprisingly dominated by Alonzo, the man with all the answers. He needs to talk like this. Alonzo has convinced everyone around him he’s untouchable, and for a while, it seems that way.

He certainly knows how to play the game.

Training Day Script Takeaway #3

Training Day plot — good cop, bad cop

Amongst those quotes, there’s talk of sheep and wolves, fairies, choir boys, Mormons, traffic cops, and boring regular life. The world we see and the world that truly exists. That’s because, at its core, Training Day is a very simple movie with a simple theme.

The Training Day plot is about our pure golden child Jake, and whether or not he can be corrupted by the scheming, jaded Alonzo. Jake is by-the-book in every sense of the matter, Alonzo writes his own book.

But in this scene, Jake takes action.

Training Day Plot  •  Drug Bust

If that leaves you wondering about the first time Jake had a gun pulled on him.

Weed Scene  •  Training Day Summary

Not that dissimilar a situation, and unfortunately for Jake, it isn’t the last time he gets a barrel to the face. Both scenes are great examples of David Ayer implementing the G.O.D.D. scene model in high-stakes situations.

There are countless clips and excerpts about good cop bad cop, basically every scene, but it’s on page 98 that Jake realizes what Alonzo is truly up to.

Jake's Realization  •  Read Full Scene

Unfortunately for Jake, it’s after Alonzo leaves Jake for dead. Not even the gangsters respect Alonzo, he’s the lowest of the low, and he’s the villain of the story. This isn’t Jake’s training day, this is the day Alonzo needs to pay up. 

UP NEXT

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What makes Alonzo (and by association Training Day) compelling is originality and authenticity. If you want to continue reading screenplays, we have similar titles like The Departed, Nightcrawler, and Uncut Gems in our screenplay database. Browse and download PDFs for all of our scripts as you read, write and practice your craft to become the next great screenwriter.

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