The Equalizer is an enthusiastic rush of action
The Equalizer, which is an adaptation of the television series, is extremely well made, incredibly entertaining and satisfying, but light on meaning. This isn’t a bad thing, carrot cake is still good, satisfying, but it doesn’t count as eating vegetables. Much like that carrot cake, this film is highly satisfactory, and it contains just enough good stuff to pass for more than just mindless entertainment. It is also, high in calories. That said I suppose it is good they have already ordered a sequel, and could easily turn this into a franchise, or export it to television.
The film itself was excellently made. The cinematography was interesting, and dynamic. The direction was tight and the pacing was spot on. The acting was solid and convincing. Antoine Fuqua’s direction on this film was exceptional; I couldn’t pick out any significant technical flaws. While I would argue that Fuqua might have made a more interesting film had he focused more on the underlying theme of doing something to help because you can. I would personally choose the more interesting story over the more entertaining action, but I won’t fault Fuqua for not catering to my individual tastes.
Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) is a quiet and particular man. There is nothing remarkable about him. He works in a home improvement store where he is determined to help his friend Ralphie (Johnny Skourtis) lose weight to pass his security guard fitness test. At night, he walks from his small apartment to diner where he drinks his tea, reads his book, and converses with a young Russian escort called Teri (Chloë Grace Moretz). When one night his friend doesn’t show up in the diner but in intensive care, Robert makes a decision to do something because he can. Piece by piece Robert confronts an elaborate organized Russian crime syndicate, and we discover Robert McCall has a past that makes him exceptionally dangerous. This also earns him an equally dangerous enemy, a Russian hit man named Teddy (Marton Csokas).
Marton Csokas was phenomenal; his character was one of the most intimidating villains in recent memory. He came off as genuinely unhinged and capable of anything, capable of unpredictably, brutally killing anyone that happened to be on screen with him. Teddy was a far cry from the woods of Lothlórien.
Denzel Washington played both sides of a very complex character very close to the vest. He revealed just enough to clue us into the background and inner motivations of Robert McCall. Playing the one may against an army of highly trained vicious killers it would be easy to slip into a cheap clichéd performance. Washington was able to avoid that pitfall, to pull off a more convincing character that was easy to believe and enjoy.
The Equalizer is highly charged testosterone with a heart of gold hidden behind explosions a highly entertaining violence. Technically proficient and beautifully filmed, it is an excellent action thriller film, and I don’t like action thriller films. 4 of 5
Directed by Antoine Fuqua, Starring Denzel Washington, Marton Csokas, Chloë Grace Moretz. Rated R for strong bloody violence and language throughout, including some sexual references