Trina and Nate are finally hooking up, and though they haven't known one another for long, they have a spark that's been growing since Trina's been frequenting Nate's bar for some time. But the hook-up doesn't go quite as planned -- Nate is put off by Trina's unconventional living quarters in a large warehouse, and she's put off by his touchy-feeling parlance.
Trina also ends up passing out drunk, though not before she reveals to Nate the truth: she's a trainee operative for a spy organization angling for world domination. But that indiscretion comes back to haunt Trina, who now has to face the consequences of her own sloppy mistakes -- and perhaps also her feelings for Nate.
Written and directed by Kayla Compton (who also plays the lead role of Trina), this polished, clever short is equal parts action and romance, offering a fun take on the espionage thriller genre, though with a millennial twist. Its dark, sleek look neatly slots the film alongside its genre brethren, particularly with more modern, female-centered films like La Femme Nikita or even Charlie's Angels. But while those examples are either dead-serious or loopily ironic, Trina's story is both a little more emotionally grounded and genuinely sweet, while teasingly contrasting the main character's demeanor of a "hot mess" with her talent as a spy/assassin.
The film starts as more of a hook-up story, as the couple enters the room in a blaze of action that's more lust-filled than anything else. But immediately, things are off, as Nate realizes they've come to a warehouse instead of an apartment. Like many romances, there's a crisp sense of dialogue, revealing in a reversal of traditional gender expectations that Nate is conversant in the dynamics of emotional connection and Trina is the more evasive, perhaps commitment-averse one.
As it turns out, there's a good reason for her aversion to serious romance: Trina is a spy and assassin, which she reveals in an alcohol-assisted blur of honesty. Nate doesn't believe her, interpreting her story as a creative but outlandish attempt at boundaries in her personal life. As the potential couple, Compton and co-star Brandon McKnight have a warmly sweet chemistry, and Nate's fluency with emotional intelligence shows a sincerity in his pursuit of Trina that bodes well for a future relationship. You can't help but root for them, and hope that Trina makes the right choice when she's pushed to make her allegiances and loyalties clear.
The ending of "In Training" could easily feed into a longer project or series, following the adventures of a would-be spy and her sweetly supportive boyfriend as they take on a nefarious worldwide organization. Offering a clever, contemporary blend of rom-com and action that deftly handles both strands of its creative DNA, it swerves from romance to suspense with adroitness, verve and humor, taking both its unwitting characters and audiences on a fun, entertaining ride.