The Equalizer is the big screen adaption of an American TV show from the mid 80s. The Equalizer is also the highly anticipated reunion of Antoine Fuqua (director) and Denzel Washington after their earlier success with Training Day. Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) is a retired blacks ops operative and super efficient killer who spends his days working away in a hardware store, and his nights reading books in his local cafe where he befriends a Russian call girl named Teri (Chloe Grace Moretz). Robert tells Teri stories from his books, partly to offer her a temporary respite from her shitty life. Robert can see that Teri is being forced into this lifestyle, but he doesn't act on his impulse to protect her. It's not until the Russian gangsters put Teri in a hospital that Robert goes in to see them and offers them $9,800 dollars for her life, free and clear. With the considerably affluent Russian mobsters offended at his measly offer, they irritably tell him to fuck off. Unable to fight the urge to hold back any longer, Robert precisely and ruthlessly kills all the gangsters and takes his money back.
When word gets back to Russia that one of their bases of operations has been "hit" by who they think was a rival gang trying to muscle in on one of their businesses. Vladimir Pushkin (Vladimir Kulich) sends his top enforcer Teddy (Marton Csokas) an ex-spetsnaz soldier to take care of business. It's not long before Teddy astutely summarizes that it wasn't a gang "hit" or anything like that, that it was just one man, who he quickly identifies as being Robert, but he doesn't completely understand his motivations for needlessly involving himself in their business. Robert has obviously gone to a great deal of trouble to disappear, so why risk the exposure?
Given that The Equalizer was the reunion of Antoine Fuqua and Denzel Washington, I was hoping for some of that Training Day magic, but I'm sad to say that The Equalizer is no Training Day. They're both different movies, obviously, but The Equalizer never managed to attain the absorbing, suspenseful and perilous atmosphere that Training Day had. The plot felt very unfocused, and just when the tension started to rise, all the momentum was dropped entirely. This happened on at least three different occasions, and it was annoyingly jarring. The cinematic equivalent of blue balls. It's never appreciated.
I really felt every minute of The Equalizer tick by as it was a very tedious and frustrating movie to watch, like you know all the components are there to make a great action movie, but it just never comes together the way it should. The action was admittedly intense, yet painfully sporadic. I would even hesitate to call The Equalizer an action movie. Even though what little action there was, was decent enough, it still suffered from too much darkness, too many close ups, and too many quick cuts, but it was nowhere near as bad as many other movies in this regard tend to be.
Denzel Washington played a decent Robert McCall, I suppose, but he was given very little to work with here. We discover next to nothing about who he is, or who he was, and the occasional insight into his character is mentioned ever so briefly, as such it was hard to empathize with him. Ironically Denzel felt warm and likable throughout the start of the movie, yet as the movie progresses, he becomes increasingly cold. This may have been the intention, but he also felt boring and even look bored. Surely that wasn't the intention. Overall, The Equalizer was just okay, although it felt almost laborious at certain points. There were things to like here and there. Teddy played a good, but underutilized villain. The Equalizer still felt lethargic though, like it lacked a spark of some sort, and a narrative thread because the plot felt scattered. Denzel seemed to be sleepwalking his way through The Equalizer for the most part. It was serviceable, but nowhere near being memorable. The action genre has really gone down the shitter.
Written by - The Sentry - 12/12/2014