Review: The Equalizer

EqualizerDenzel Washington reunites with his Training Day director, Antoine Fuqua, and returns to the screen as Robert McCall, The Equalizer (rated R), based on a television show from the 80s I’ve never seen. McCall works at Home Mart, a Home Depot/Lowe’s type store and tries to live a quiet, normal life. He’s a good employee and helpful. He helps his overweight coworker try to get in shape for the security guard exam. He has his routines. Every night he goes to the local diner, has some tea and enjoys a book. Here he meets Teri, a young call girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) who quickly ends up in the hospital after being beaten by a customer.

Soon, he’s face to face with the Russian mobsters who employ Teri, offering them money to buy her out. When they laugh in his face, McCall decides to return to a life he left behind and do what he does best. He takes all the bad guys in the room down in seconds. He even times himself. This ignites a spark in McCall and he ends up becoming a vigilante, taking down criminals in his city night after night. But the Russian mobsters he took down were employed by an even worse mobster. A man who decides McCall has to go.

Denzel Washington is perfect as Robert McCall. He has the charm and charisma for the opening act, playing the nice guy McCall but he also can bring the tough guy quality that’s needed for the rest of the film. He’s got superhuman like skills and no one seems to be a match for him. As the story unfolds and he finds himself getting deeper and deeper into mobster territory, he has no problem handling himself.

Marton Csokas plays the villain of the film, Teddy, a British right hand man to the top Russian mobster Pushkin. He’s menacing and equally as skilled as McCall. At first, I thought Csokas was going a bit over the top with his performance but by the end of the film, I was really enjoying it. He really is creepy and a formidable foe for Washington.

My favorite element to the film is the score by Cliff Martinez. With a bit of an electronic feel, the music is some of the best I’ve heard all year.

The weakest elements of the film can be overlooked. The movie was rather enjoyable and if it weren’t for these flaws would be among my favorite movies of the year. The first problem comes after McCall decides to start righting some wrongs. He finds himself in all the right places at all the right times. When a Home Mart cashier gets robbed, he’s right there. When his friend Ralphie’s Mom’s restaurant goes up in flames due to not paying some corrupt policemen, he’s all over it. It’s a superhero movie syndrome. We need to see the hero saving the day, but it starts to feel a bit too coincidental.

The other problem I have with the film is the ending which feels tacked on due to either a studio request or a poor test screening. It has the stench of “re-shoots” all over it. If it ended where I thought it was going to end (and probably originally ended), I would have loved it.

I give it a B+.

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