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Home > Written Reviews, Written Reviews > “The Equalizer” Retribution has its Day (Film Review)

“The Equalizer” Retribution has its Day (Film Review)

EQUALIZER poster

 

Review by John Delia

Returning to the screen with a very pervasive performance, Denzel Washington stars as a vigilante marauder in The Equalizer.  Providing a character with high intensity the movie conjures up memories of the violence in Safe House, Man on Fire and Training Day, three of Washington’s most fierce portrayals. There’s not much comedy to lighten the load in this thriller, but those who like it fast and brutal are sure to get an adrenaline rush.

A loner, Robert McCall (Washington) goes to work each day at the Home Mart and spends time reading at a local diner in the evenings.  On several occasions he has spotted Teri (Chloë Grace Moretz) a call girl for the Russian Mob at the diner’s counter and one evening she comes over and introduces herself to him.  Sporting a bruised cheek, she makes small talk with McCall about the book he’s reading and he sizes her up.  A limo pulls up and Teri runs to meet her john.

McCall (Washington) is The Equalizer

McCall (Washington) is The Equalizer

After a few nights of her not being at the diner he finds out that she’s in intensive care at a Boston hospital.  Brutally beaten, Teri is unconscious when he arrives.  He spots Mandy (Haley Bennett) in her room and waits by the elevator to stop her for a chat.  He finds out the details of her beating and gets information on the Russian mob who did it. McCall takes out the local Russian Mob boss and it sends a message to Mafia Chief Vladimir Pushkin (Vladimir Kulich) in Russia. When Russian hit man Teddy (Marton Csokas) gets sent to the United States to find out who’s been making trouble for the mob, the situation starts to reach the boiling point. And that’s just the first 20 minutes of the 131 minute film.

Jenny (Anastasia Mousis) and McCall (Washington) get held up by a thug

Jenny (Anastasia Mousis) and McCall (Washington) get held up by a thug

The film gets very brutal and vicious as McCall tries to weave his way out of one death trap only to find himself in another.  Director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, Olympus has Fallen) spares no pain as he spools out images of a violent vigilante style film in the vein of Death Wish and The Punisher.  Taking some advice from the movie Swordfish, he “pushes the envelope” with a no holds barred unstoppable character that attacks the mob at any cost. Slowing the action down between battles with the Russians, dirty cops and punks, he creates a love story of sorts and an unexpected friendship that sets up McCall’s reasoning for his actions.

Washington is on top of his game blazing the screen with his tough persona and unwavering heat.  Even though the film gets quite predictable and mirrors other murderous movies, his performances are a guilty pleasure for most of his fans.  He can do no wrong for the army of followers and he gives them what they want in The Equalizer.  Slick, pernicious and brilliantly vicious Denzel puts on a show equal to his performance in Safe House.

McCall (Washington) spots Teri (Moretz) at the diner in The Equalizer

McCall (Washington) spots Teri (Moretz) at the diner in The Equalizer

However, I can’t say that much for the 10 minutes of screen time for the high profile Chloe Grace Moretz who is miscast as the Russian call girl Teri.  The role calls for a quick set-up that leads McCall on a quest of retribution for her beatings.  Unfortunately her character could have been better served with someone more Russian looking and an accent that would make her scenes more authentic.  I like Moritz very much and her performance in Kick-Ass has stuck with me over the years, but this one flaw does lower the film a notch.  She was brilliant in Let Me In, a role that fits the actress, and I hope she shines in the upcoming Dark Places.

The downside includes a lengthy run time that has some superfluous and repetitive material.  The killing methods are very reminiscent of other violent based films and the movie starts to get very predictable well before the final act. These flaws will probably not prevent Washington’s fan base from seeing the film, but others may be bothered by them.

Director Antoine Fuqua sets up a scene in The Equalizer

Director Antoine Fuqua sets up a scene in The Equalizer

The Equalizer has been rated R by the MPAA for strong bloody violence and language throughout, including some sexual reference.  Please note that the violence is explicit and may disturb the timid.

FINAL ANALYSIS: A good crime thriller for lovers of the genre. (C+)

Additional Film Information:
Cast: Denzel Washington, Marton Csokas, Chloë Grace Moretz, Johnny Skourtis, David Harbour, Haley Bennett, with Bill Pullman and Melissa Leo
Directed by: Antoine Fuqua
Genre: Action Thriller
MPAA Rating: R for strong bloody violence and language throughout, including some sexual reference
Running Time: 2 hr 11 min
Release Date: September 26, 2014
Distributed by: Columbia Pictures

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