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Review: The Equalizer + video review!

The Equalizer + video review!
09.25.2014
9 10

The Equalizer Denzel Washington bannerSee Chris Bumbray's Video Review below!
Originally reviewed as part of JoBlo.com's TIFF 2014 coverage.

PLOT: Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) is an ex-special operative now leading a quiet life as the manager of a home improvement store in Boston. When he avenges the beating of a young call girl (Chloe Moretz) he finds himself the target of the Russian mob. Little do they know, McCall is more than their match.

REVIEW: Many of you younger readers may not know this, but THE EQUALIZER was originally a TV show in the eighties that starred Edward Woodward as a kind of James Bond-style figure turned urban vigilante, specializing in helping the downtrodden who find themselves against incredible odds (hence the title). It always seemed like a natural for the big screen treatment, and the resulting film certainly belongs near the top of the heap as far as TV-to-film adaptations go, alongside movies like THE UNTOUCHABLES and the MISSION:IMPOSSIBLE series.

The Equalizer Denzel Washington 2014

The role of Robert McCall seems tailor-made for Washington. While the part may not initially seem like too much of a stretch for him, director Antoine Fuqua and writer Richard Wenk (whose script was so solid it made “The Black List” a few years ago) have gone through great pains to make him different from previous Washington heroes, specifically his Creasey character from MAN OF FIRE, to which this would seem to have a lot of similarities. McCall is different in that he's not especially tortured or on the edge. Rather, he's a genuinely kindhearted man with a soft spot for the oppressed or marginalized. He likes people, with him using his day job to kid around with the staff (when asked about his shadowy background he tells them he was one of Gladys Knight's Pips) and help a chubby colleague lose some weight to get the new job he wants. He's a sweetheart, who just happens to have a James Bond-level talent for killing bad guys (and in creative ways to boot). One nice piece of business is McCall's determination to read the “100 books you need to read before you die” as a tribute to his late wife, who was working through the list herself before she passed. It's a sweet character moment we don't often get with most action flicks preoccupied with jamming as many action set-pieces as they can. Non-stop action can often be monotonous and that's something Fuqua seems to understand

As a result, we spend a lot of time getting to know McCall before anything heavy goes down. The first action scene doesn't happen for awhile, but when it does come it has more of an impact as we've gotten to know McCall and Chloe Moretz' call girl, who's enslaved to her brutal Russian pimps. Just as McCall is a different kind of hero, the action is also very distinctive, with guns used sparingly. Instead we get a lot of impressively choreographed hand-to-hand scenes, including a brutal brawl late in the film with McCall and a baddie squaring off with pieces of broken glass. Otherwise Washington's McCall seems like a bit of a minimalist when it comes to dispatching villains (with the body count surely being in the dozens) preferring to use every day items like cork screws, books, sledge hammers, and most brutally, a nail gun.

The Equalizer Denzel Washington Marton Czokas

One especially noteworthy thing about THE EQUALIZER is how brutal the action is, with this being a hard R. There are no cartoonish CGI squibs either, instead the wounds are graphic, and the fights are brutal. While an action film doesn't have to be violent to be great, I'd say THE EQUALIZER pretty much does, as the carnage McCall inflicts on the villains is supposed to be unsettling, with the point of his character being that he's an essentially kind man who nonetheless, is a brutally efficient killer with no qualms about downright murdering people he thinks have it coming. Considering the absolute sadism of the villains, particularly Marton Czokas' brutal mob fixer, you can't really blame him.

If THE EQUALIZER has any weakness at all, it's that McCall seems almost superhuman, with him able to anticipate any attack before it happens. As such, he seems almost indestructible and while Czokas is very good, he's more of a henchman and next time it would be interesting to see him pitted against a bad guy who's really his equal. Still, that's a fairly minor criticism for what's easily the best American action movie to come out in a long time.

As a show, THE EQUALIZER ran for years and years, and this could easily become a really good franchise for Washington and Fuqua, who's turning into one of the best action directors in the business (although as he favors dark lighting, top notch projection is a must). This has a lot more heart than your average thriller, and hopefully will become the big crossover it the studio is expecting – with it being one of the highest testing films in Sony history. Bring on THE EQUALIZER 2!

Source: JoBlo.com

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