Genre: Action, Crime, Thriller
Directed by: Antoine Fuqua
Starring: Denzel Washington, Marton Csokas, Chloe Grace Moretz, David Harbour
Reuniting Denzel Washington with his Training Day director, Antoine Fuqua, The Equalizer is essentially a 90-minute B-movie stretched out to over two hours, elevated to A-list status thanks to its leading man. Adapted from the eighties TV show starring Edward Woodward, Fuqua’s gritty and garishly violent re-imagining may have all the high glossy production values, but never quite manages to rise beyond its B-grade sensibilities, despite the best efforts of its star and director.
Washington plays seemingly mild mannered Robert McCall, a borderline OCD former special ops intelligence officer who now spends his days working shifts in a home depot store, and his nights in a local diner reading the classics, where he strikes up a friendship with young prostitute, Terri (Chloe Grace Moretz, channelling a young Jodie Foster). It isn’t long of course before McCall finds himself jumping to Terri’s defence, utilizing his special skills to swiftly and brutally dispatch a bunch of stereotypical Russian goons. Before long, McCall finds himself the target of Russian mob enforcer Teddy (Marton Csokas) and the wrath of the Russian mafia.
Going by that short synopsis, it’s clear that The Equalizer is not big on complexity. The plot is simple and best enjoyed as such, even when it’s pretending it’s anything more than what it is. The film is a violent piece of work, a big studio film, with a dark and flawed hero at its centre, eschewing character work in order to swiftly move Washington’s McCall from one bloody set piece to the next.
Despite the film’s overwhelming simplicity and incredibly long lags in the second act, Washington is an ever-reliable presence, while Fuqua’s assured direction brings a visceral intensity to the brutal action and fight sequences. A climactic showdown within the home depot store where McCall works, is one of the bloody and stylishly violent highlights of any mainstream action movie of the year. Fuqua masterfully directs the B-movie blood laced violence with enough stylish glee, that you wonder why the movie didn’t get to this point a lot quicker than it did.
For the most part, The Equalizer is stylish entertainment, with Washington on good form as McCall, while Marton Csokas hams it up a storm as the one dimensional Teddy. It may not have the complexity and richness of Washington and Fuqua’s first collaboration, but the film is stylish and competently directed enough to entertain fans of this kind of thing.