The most badass of Denzel Washington roles. The Equalizer presents Denzel as Robert McCall, a modest employee at a hardware store. He befriends an abused prostitute named Teri (Chloe Grace Moretz) through a series of well-written, even psychologically absorbing, encounters. Then he avenges her pimp with ultraviolent “Taxi Driver” methods, but the descendants of the Russian Mob promise to track him down for revenge. Suffice to say they are no match for Citizen McCall who has a secret past in the special armed forces.
For the first hour, “The Equalizer” begins as an atmospheric and moody character study of a once violent man who has long remained dormant and peaceful, and then evolves into a brutal fantasy revenge picture that tilts into more action exploitation, less character study. The movie works both ways, it’s entertaining, but it’s not art. It’s amazing, if not unusual, that a commercial movie is even allowed a heart and soul for the first hour.
What the scenario lets the hero do is kill all the bad guys creatively in the last third of the picture, and Denzel makes every one of them look puny and inadequate before he lowers the boom (or gun barrel) unto them. The movie even takes aside for Denzel to take down a couple of corrupt cops in a superfluous subplot. The main villain is Teddy (Marton Csokas) who is sharp-looking, sleazy, woman-hating, and vicious. He deserves to be taken down by not just a gun, but hardware tools. And what do you know, the climax ends at McCall’s hardware store. Like I said, “The Equalizer” delivers on creative revenge. Denzel enacts everything with an air of cool fury.
Directed by the gruesome-obsessed Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day,” “Shooter”). “The Equalizer” is the same as all his rest, it’s just as violent. The movie is based on a television series that ran from 1985-89.
131 Minutes. Rated R.
ACTION / EXPLOITATION REVENGE / SATURDAY NIGHT THRILLER
Film Cousins: “Death Wish” (1974); “Taxi Driver” (1976); “Man on Fire” (2004); “Eastern Promises” (2007).