Release Date: Sept. 26, 2014
Running Time: 132 minutes
Not many heroes would ride the bus to their final showdown with the bad guys. But that's Denzel Washington's Robert McCall for you. In director Antoine Fuqua's lacking adaptation of the 1980s TV series The Equalizer, Washington isn't so much playing the hero for hire Edward Woodward popularized but the stoic, noble soldier of fortune of Man of Fire had he survived that intense Tony Scott remake. McCall is a complicated man trying to live a simple life. He's left behind his mysterious past to work in a chain hardware store. He spends his spare time helping his work colleagues and his nights drinking tea and reading literary classics in his favorite Boston diner. Washington brings his usual quiet dignity to another damaged man who has been put on earth to do one thing: eradicate those who prey on the weak and the defenseless. In the case of The Equalizer, it's the Russian mobster who administers a severe beating to the hooker (Chloë Grace Moretz) McCall befriends. Killing the mobster, though, results in his boss back home dispatching his nastiest henchman (Marton Csokas) to the United States to track down the responsible party. Fuqua draws us into McCall's peaceful existence and then shatters it in stomach-churning fashion with the initial act of justice McCall dispenses in the name of the hooker. The Equalizer then becomes a predictable and tedious cat-and-mouse game between Washington and the deeply focused Csokas, whose slightly crazed mob enforcer could have been one of the most psychologically complex villains in recent memory had screenwriter Richard Wenk decided against making him your prototypical sociopath. Even before all hell breaks loose, the level of extreme violence in The Equalizer is astounding—it’s impossible to imagine Edward Woodward's McCall employing a nail gun to kill a foe. Then again, the TV show aired on CBS in the late 1980s at a time when no one bled when they were shot or injured. Fuqua drops his Training Day star Washington into so many punch-ups and gunfights that the bodies he leaves strewn around Boston could clog the Ted Williams Tunnel. The outnumbered Washington strides through The Equalizer with a righteous indignation befitting of the war he wages against a presumably unbeatable foe, and he’s just comfortable killing with his bare hands as he is dissecting The Old Man and the Sea with anyone who listens. Yes, The Equalizer patronizingly goes out of its way to draw simple and obvious analogies between the well-read McCall’s predicament and those of the literary characters he so admires. There’s no denying Washington, Fuqua, and Wenk want to make The Equalizer smarter than the average revenge yarn. That much is evident from Washington’s commitment to his character and the thoughtful violence-free opening 30 minutes. When McCall returns to his old bone-crunching ways, The Equalizer becomes a Death Wish sequel with an Oscar-winning actor who deserves much better.
Aired: Sept. 25, 2014
Web site: http://www.equalizerthemovie.com/