reviewed by Tom-Tom
Denzel Washington and Antoine Fuqua are an excellent match. They qualified their dual skills separately in various films Washington the heavy weight with a treasure chest of eclectic roles under his belt and Fuqua the relative newcomer with a John Woo style cult hit The Replacement Killers to his credit until their dream come true collaboration in the roller coaster ride that was Training Day. Washington, who up to that point was mainly always in the role of the good (albeit flawed) guy took a welcome turn into evil territory as a manipulative, calculating cop plotting the framing and downfall of his trainee to secure his continually corrupt future. This image change whopped viewers on the head allowing many actors with traditionally kind hearted images to widen their ranges from Michael Clarke Duncan in Daredevil and Sin City to Albert Brooks in Drive.
In The Equalizer, which is based on the TV series of the same name which starred Edward Woodward as a sort of one-man A-team, Denzel Washington plays Robert McCall, an intelligent and competent widower who spends his days working at a hardware store advising a pudgy co-worker on ways to achieve the coveted role of security guard from dietary advice to drill sergeant-like after work training. The younger co-workers jeer at his state in life, “I bet you didn’t have to push concrete in your last job” to which he affably replies “Guilty as charged.” An insomniac, McCall heads to a local all-night diner to read his current literary classic while drinking tea from a tea bag he himself brings and making pleasant conversation with a young lady of the night Teri played by the tremendously talented Chloe Grace Moretz whose precious few scenes in this film are charged with depth and layered pain to which McCall is just beginning to calmly and non-judgmentally breach with his indirect championing of her hopeful singing career. He seems to have advice for everyone which, in a different actor might come off as preachy or overbearing but with Washington as genuine well wishing by a local elder.
Events come to a head and rather than to come out with guns slinging, McCall always first advocates the path of conciliation and negotiation before unleashing unholy death in a manner of seconds. This sudden shift is rather shocking and chilling as the action is rather violent. His actions drive the Russian gangsters, from whom he had hoped to win Teri’s freedom, to bring in their own enforcer Teddy played with equal parts calm and rabid ferocity by Marton Csokas. The film breaks into two on one hand with McCall continuing his streak of secret but violent good-doing and Teddy starting his violent and…violent investigation into the hit on the Russians.
Both halves rise to a fever pitch only to explode into one another in a high reaching, high stakes (for the characters we have come to know via McCall’s good deeds) showdown which shows the extent to which one good man’s actions can achieve. It’s a bit over the top, really and our hero’s lines do eventually get a bit preachy when angrily sermonizing to corrupt cops about how they’ve disrespected their badges. But on the whole, The Equalizer is an entertaining revenge flick with exquisite action scenes which draw on the intelligence, skill, and star power of the great Denzel Washington.