“The Equalizer” is an awesome entertainment told with great style an expert filmmaking. It is not original in any way in fact it borrows from a lot of different genres and was inspired by a TV show from the 1980s. Why was I so impressed with it then? Because it is a red blooded thriller filled with lots of great performances, terrific action sequences and a lot fun details that get lost in mainstream thrillers like this.
The story surrounds Robert McCall played by Denzel Washington. He is a seemingly average guy who works at Home Depot, lives in a small apartment. He enjoys a quiet life of reading in diners and helping out coworkers. Every night he has friendly conversations with a local prostitute named Teri played by Chloe Grace Moretz. She is interested in the books he is reading. McCall seems to have a weakness for hard luck cases. When starts showing up with black eyes and other injuries Washington starts walking her home. When she is hospitalized after a particularly savage beating, he visits her and decides he can no longer stand by and watch anymore. This is when we get a glimpse of the man he used to be.
He shows up at the office of her pimp and murders him and his whole crew with deadly precision. This first fight sequence is one of the best I have seen this year. I fully appreciated that it looks like a real battle. There was no CGI blood or shaky cameras just good old fashioned stunt work and visual tricks. It is a brutal contest that shows Washington is more than just a Home Depot employee. This slaying causes a chain reaction within the local Russian mobsters who bring in a specialist named Teddy played by Marton Csokas. He is a brutal assassin who seems to have similar skills to McCall. Everything leads to a show down in Home Depot that is as violent as it is tense.
What really intrigued me was some of the side plots added in where McCall starts helping local citizens who are being bullied by the mob as well as corrupt cops. He starts dishing out some serious punishments. By the end of the movie he is responding to ads put up by people who need his help. His reasoning is that he has the skill set to help them and he simply cannot sit back and watch these atrocities any longer. But there are also some moral questions posed here involving the fact that he has no problems beating and murdering those who are in his way. Are his vigilante actions real justice or are they going too far above the law?
The director is Antoine Fuqua, who directed “Training Day” with Washington and last year’s “Olympus Has Fallen” This movie couldn’t be more different from the White House action thriller. Here he paces the film well, lets the actors create real characters, chew through some great dialogue and then stages some great action scenes. As much as I enjoyed “Olympus” I was not a fan of the amount of CGI action and shaky cam sequences.
At the age of 60, Washington shows no signs of slowing down. He can still kick ass without question. What sets him apart from your typical action heroes is the intelligence he brings to all his anti-her roles. McCall uses his training and sharp eye for detail to navigate through most of the conflicts in this movie. Violence is a last resort. But when it happens you better look out.