Starring Denzel Washington, Chloë Grace Moretz, Marton Coskas, David Harbour, and Melissa Leo
Directed by Antoine Fuqua
Run Time: 132 minutes
Opens September 26th
By Monte Yazzie - The Coda Films
Corkscrews, a nail gun, and closed hand bludgeoning are some of the methods of violence utilized in director Antione Fuqua’s good old-fashioned revenge story. In the calm yet forceful lead is Denzel Washington, making what is an unoriginal and many times copied story of a quiet man hiding specialized deadly skills into something much more interesting than it should be with violent interludes to gratify those waiting for just retribution.
Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) is a mild mannered, well-liked home improvement store employee who has difficulty sleeping at night but utilizes the time to sit at a local diner, drinking tea, and reading literary classics. A young girl named Alina (Chloë Grace Moretz), whose street name is Teri, talks with Robert about his books. Teri is caught in a bad place with bad people; one night the men controlling her beat her badly. Robert, trying to help his friend, makes an impromptu visit to the Russian men that sent her to the hospital. Conversations don’t end well, as Robert’s secretive past makes a bloody appearance leaving him the last man standing. This group of bad guys was merely one brick of a bigger wall.
Antione Fuqua is no stranger to gritty, violent crime stories. Having directed Washington in “Training Day” the director utilizes him to distract from the derivative narrative elements. All the attributes and characters found in revenge films are present, along with the violent altercations designed here with Fuqua’s tendencies for overloaded frames. The choice of music to enliven actions scenes and the slow motion/close-up photography selections that describe Robert’s sensations are distracting and take away from the emotion worked towards within the scene. This may be overly picky, but Fuqua demonstrates restraint and in doing this he forms some compelling scenes between the actors. These scenes are quiet and measured, with characters talking intimately with each other during different states of emotion. Whether the intimidating back and forth at a restaurant table between Robert and a deadly Russian problem solver (Marton Csokas) or the compassionate guidance on a lonely street between Robert and Teri, these scenes of character development separate “The Equalizer” from others like it.
The cast is strong. Washington’s great control of the role is nothing new for the seasoned actor who has played this role in different variations a few times now. Chloë Grace Moretz is again good and quite effective in a smaller role. Marton Csokas is a great choice of villain; his intimidating, tattooed character goes from calm businessman to aggressive killer in a blink, unfortunately the character is left in an under-utilized position in the finale.
“The Equalizer” is based on a television show of the same name from the 1980’s. The television series is shadowed in small parts but this film is entirely Fuqua’s work. Denzel Washington is the main attraction here, and he is quite good. While the narrative is a slightly better rehash of other vengeance films, the compulsive style choices are distracting and subtract from the exceptional subtle work the director incorporates between characters. The film is still entertaining and should satisfy fans of Washington and those looking for a no-nonsense violent action film.
3.00 out of 5.00