The Equalizer - Review

The first two acts of Antoine Fuqua’s The Equalizer are imbued with a certain patience and solid direction, which is ultimately undone by its uninspired third act. In a similar vein to Liam Neeson’s Non-Stop earlier this year, the film gradually comes apart at the seams once the basic premise is expanded upon. Having said that, there is plenty to enjoy in this film, it was simply weighed down heavily by what I didn’t like. With dwindling returns at the box-office, it would seem that the market agrees.

The Equalizer is a reimagining of an 80s television show by the same name. Denzel Washington plays Robert McCall, a mild-mannered hardware store employee who maintains an highly-regimented Spartan lifestyle. Robert’s hobbies include helping others, reading, insomnia and roaming the streets of Boston as a vigilante out for justice. Bob is drawn into the deadly world of international Russian gangsters (yes, really) when he befriends underage prostitute Teri (Chloe Grace Moretz), whose disappearance causes Robert to return to a life he thought he had left forever …

Antoine Fuqua is a perplexing director. I haven’t really liked any of his films (and, in fact, I despised Olympus has Fallen) but it’s rarely the direction that I have a problem with - its more the lack of originality. In this case, the first forty minutes of The Equalizer shares a lot in common with Ben Affleck’s The Town, possibly because of the Boston setting but mostly the style and shot selection is quite similar. Fuqua is very good at establishing the world and tones of his films, but it’s the back-end where the issues always creep in. This film sees him reuniting with Denzel Washington after the success they shared with Training Day (again, another film I wasn’t enamoured with but definitely had its own personality). I’d be interested to see Fuqua tackle a more intimate story, perhaps with a lower budget, to really see what he can do. The most impactful moments in this film were the quieter scenes, which were focused on the character development rather the choppy action shenanigans.

In terms of performances, Denzel Washington basically does what he always does: playing a character that’s usually the smartest guy in the room, one step ahead of the rest, but plagued by inner demons. There’s nothing particularly challenging for him here, although he really impressed me during the fight scenes. Chloe Grace Moretz’s character basically bookends the story and she’s clearly paying homage to Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver. (Perhaps I’m getting old, but I’m not ready for Ms Moretz to be playing ‘sexy’ on screen just yet.) Marton Csokas plays the chief antagonist, Teddy, aka big and bad Russian psycho, who only exists to inflict copious amounts of pain as he searches for the elusive Robert McCall. His motivations are way too cliche, resulting in a stereotypical moustache-twirling villain, for the most part.

If you’re hankering for a helping of Denzel Washington playing it cool and killing Russian bad guys then this may soothe those cravings. The Equalizer opens in theatres everything from this Thursday. If you see the film and agree or disagree with my thoughts feel to drop a line below.

- Stu


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