Friday, 3 October 2014


(Antoine Fuqua, 2014)

Is it Denzel Washington's unique star persona that makes so many of his vehicles feel like '90s throwbacks? He chooses projects which skew older in terms of target audience than perhaps any other major movie star, and that means that his action-thrillers in particular have a strangely retro "mature" feel. The Equalizer is no different. Over-long and over-familiar, it spends most of it's time setting up the world of Robert McCall, an ex-something-deadly-or-other-for-the-Government who has escaped his old life after the death of his beloved wife and lives an anonymous, normal existence, working in a DIY store.
That is, until, of course, the young prostitute (Chloe Moretz) he has bonded with over his nocturnal visits to a local coffee shop is beaten almost to death by her Russian pimp. So McCall - until now a perfectly normal bloke, albeit one with Serious OCD - confronts the Russian and his gang and, and when they mock him, he kills them all in more or less 20 seconds, shot by Fuqua in a meticulously fetishized slo-mo manner that goes on for about 2 minutes and is undeniably satisfying in time-honoured "they messed with the wrong guy and what a way to find out" style. So the Russian Mob send legendary psycho-fixer Teddy (Martin Csokas, hamming it up as ever) to figure out who has destroyed their Boston operation, which ultimately leads to McCall taking on the Russian Mafia single-handedly.
To the extent that it works at all, The Equalizer works because of Denzel Washington. He gives McCall a mournful intelligence crossed with a subtle sense of humour - not unlike Edward Woodward's performance in the tv show on which the movie is loosely based - and though there is never really any tension (his character is too smart to lose to these gangsters) it is pleasurable watching him kill many many goons in various creative ways.
Fuqua owes his journeyman career to Washington's star power turning Training Day into a huge hit over a decade ago, and he directs with slick, anonymous competence.

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