Antoine Fuqua has been making action thrillers for over twenty years, and he’s got a knack for it. Denzel Washington is one of Hollywood’s most revered actors, and he’s got the Oscar to prove it, thanks to his collaboration with Fuqua on the 2001 police drama Training Day. It’s been over a decade since, but this weekend, the action gods have reunited these two in the hopes that they can recapture the magic of their previous work and bring a once popular 80’s television show, The Equalizer, to the big screen.
Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) is a man with a lot of secrets; a man who has lived violence and faced loss in his life. It’s a life which he can never outrun and he can never forget, but he’s found a way out. He’s found a steady job as a clerk at a local hardware store in the suburbs of Boston and has implemented himself as a model citizen. McCall has put his past behind him and has set his sights on a quiet life hoping to find peace in his later years, but sometimes, who you truly are, is the person you are so desperately trying to suppress.
McCall visits a local diner every night in the wee hours of the morning where he finds his favorite table, has a cup of tea, and reads one of his novels. Teri (Chloë Grace Moretz) is a young girl under the control of the Russian mafia, who frequents the same diner and enjoys the stories that McCall reads. The two creatures of habit have found a common respect for one another, the same respect that inhabits the relationship between father and daughter. McCall worries about Teri, but he knows that every person makes the choices that they make, but an encouraging word and a caring ear can sometimes help lead a person to find their true calling.
After Teri is found to have been a victim of a heinous attack, McCall makes the decision to not stand idly by and watch any more harm to come to her. The former intelligence officer with a unique set of skills, must come out of his self-imposed retirement and bring down the ones responsible. McCall injects himself into a world of corruption and danger that will lead him face to face with Teddy (Marton Csokas), a former Russian soldier and intelligence officer working for Vladimir Pushkin (Vladimir Kulich), a Russian tycoon responsible for all the crime in Boston. As each combatant begins to realize his opponent’s strengths, it will take each man to their limits to come out of top. Can McCall overcome the obstacles and achieve the vengeance he seeks?
Fuqua, working from a screenplay by Richard Wenk, elects to develop The Equalizer as a chess match rather than a fast-paced action thriller. Each scene is meticulously positioned to build up the anticipation and the strengths of Washington and Csokas and allows each men to counter each others unique acting abilities. For the limited time she’s in the film, Chloë Grace Moretz‘s chemistry with Washington is really great. Taking the lead from the Academy Award-winning actor and building on his calm demeanor allows her character to find its place. Fuqua, for the most part, works within his actors comfort zones and doesn’t ask them to get too creative which is both a blessing and a disservice to the film. At times this movie does seem to fall into the familiar and channels cliche’s from the great action thriller of the past, but Fuqua’s directing skills and Washington’s acting strength help the film to avoid the fate of being just another action film without a heart.
A franchise in the making? Only time will tell, but The Equalizer it is an enjoyable film with some promise and for nothing else, another great Denzel Washington performance.
3 out of 5
After credit scene? No