The Equalizer, the newest high-budget revenge thriller, is now crushing the box office and steadily holding the number one spot, while at the same time, maintaining a positive rating with critics. So is it worthy of all the hype?
Denzel Washington plays McCall, a man with a dark past who decides it’s time to live a quiet, nonviolent life. All that changes when he meets Teri (Chloë Grace Moretz), a young girl under the control of ultra-violent Russian gangsters. McCall comes out of his self-imposed exile in order to start cracking heads and defending those who can’t defend themselves.
One of the things that makes this action movie strangely stylish is the precise, focused direction of Antoine Fuqua. The character of McCall is almost a mirror of that direction, being nearly OCD in his meticulousness. It was a nice side element which I enjoyed and a clever idea on the part of the director, designed to pull you into the movie.
The problems occurred when the action scenes happened, as suddenly we were jarred out of this almost noir style direction and thrown into a big budget action flick. It was still fun, but it felt like a different movie when that happened. In some of the action scenes, it feels like they were almost trying to go for the cliché. In one scene towards the end, McCall causes a friggen mushroom cloud of an explosion, and doesn’t even bat an eyelash as he walks away from it. That was a bit too over the top for me. I know it’s a standard part of most action movies, but come on. NO ONE could actually do that.
Most would run away screaming while wetting their pants. I know I would.
Washington does a great job of playing his ‘Monk with an edge’ character. He plays the part with precision, giving depth to McCall’s straight man ways. At the same time, he manages to drop the dead pan for emotional scenes, but does it with enough reluctance to make this one man killing machine seem human. The additional vulnerability that Washington was able to give to the character turned him from a hero cliché to a human being.
This is a tense, dark movie. At the same time, there is some comic relief that’s genuinely funny. For a dark action like this, we need something to break the tension and this movie delivers without going ridiculous. It’s a stylishly violent movie with just a twist of humor.
Ironically, the last movie that Washington did with this director (Training Day), he won an Oscar for. This is no Training Day and I don’t see any Oscars in Washington’s future for this film. It’s not smart enough. This is a standard damsel in distress, stereotyped bad guys film.
But it’s extremely well done. The ending even left some room for a sequel, which I would absolutely watch. It’s not the most creative movie ever made. It’s rife with clichés, but clichés become clichés for a reason. They’re proven entertainment. Thanks to excellent direction and a great leading man, The Equalizer proves to be great entertainment.
WE GAVE IT: 4 Stars – Watch the Official Trailer and Official Movie Poster below!