Denzel Washington continues his quest to reap righteous vengeance on the bad folk in The Equalizer.
Languishing in development hell for several years, going through several director and leading men changes, the cinematic re-make of Edward Woodward’s TV series has finally arrived. Denzel plays Robert McCall, a quiet, unassuming man who works in a hardware superstore. He spends his days timing his every regimented movement to precision. One night in his regular diner, Teri (Chloe Grace Moretz), a young woman he talks with is whisked away by unsavoury looking men and ends up beaten in hospital. So begins Robert’s quest to Equalize the hell out of the men responsible. Equalize = kill.
After messing with the Russian criminals they send enforcer Teddy (Marton Csokas – who bares an uncanny resemblance to Dougray Scott) to track him and “take care of him”. Thus begins a war of back and forth as Robert has to keep ahead of the bad guys and hopefully equalize them all.
Director Antoine Fuqua has a track record for making high concept action films that have all felt ultimately dull. Olympus Has Fallen, Tears of the Sun and Shooter all fell into the trap of being over-long, somewhat silly and taking themselves entirely too seriously. The Equalizer once again falls into this category. Whilst Fuqua knows how to do shots that look lovely – a slow-mo water filled sequence does look impressive – the handling of the action lacks any real punch. There’s also no reason that this film should last over two hours. Denzel portrays McCall as a quiet man who does what’s right when needed and obviously has a dark past which is never discussed. He can smash bad guys faces in and equalize the shit out of them but he’s so skilled that everything seems to be a walk in the park for him.
Creasy in Man on Fire – still his finest action role – was a husk of a man finding purpose in his vengeance. McCall just seems to do because he can and he’s very good at it. Any sense of jeopardy is sucked dry cause you’re never given any reason to think that he won’t come out on top. Again, part of Man on Fire‘s appeal was seeing the increasingly ingenuous methods of his revenge, The Equalizer just has him dispatch one bad guy, then another, then another, then another. That’s pretty much as exciting as it gets. Look at the photo of Denzel at the top of the page that’s his performance throughout, solemn.
Elsewhere Melissa Leo and Bill Pullman, who with a simple week looks almost unrecognisable turn up, in a sequence which slows the film down to snails pace. Chloe Grace Moretz is given little to do in her little screen time and the rest of the cast is filled out with disposable Russian gangsters. A lovely looking film but little more. It feels like a poor man’s Man on Fire, which I like more than some but it’s hard to deny the film was bombastic. It feels a shame that after all these years in development that this is the best they could come up with.
The Equalizer is out now on DVD and Blu-Ray via Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.