Monday, September 29, 2014

The Equalizer

Directed by Antoine Fuqua.
2014. Rated R, 131 minutes.
Denzel Washington
Marton Csokas
Chloe Grace Moretz
David Harbour
Johnny Skourtis
Melissa Leo
Bill Pullman
Haley Bennett
Alex Veadov
Vladimir Kulich

At Home, where he works, Rober McCall (Washington) is the star employee. His bosses and co-workers all look up to him and he'll do anything he can to help out each and every one of them. He is also a man deeply mired in the routines of his life. He has to have everything a certain way. A bit of an insomniac, he finds himself at the local diner at 2 AM every morning. He sits in the same booth, sets up his silverware the way he likes and gets a cup of hot water for the tea bag that he brings from home. He also talks to Elaina (Moretz), the young girl who is always seated at the counter. She also happens to be a hooker. The night she's not there, Robert becomes very worried. When he finds out she's in the hospital after being badly beaten by her pimp, he takes matters into his own hands.

The early parts of the movie are spent developing Mr. McCall's character. We get to see what makes him tick. During this time, Denzel Washington owns the screen, completely selling us on what type of guy McCall is. The first few scenes establish him as definitely having Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. However, it's subsequent scenes during which the point is driven home. It's not necessarily in the acting out of the routines, but in his subtle reactions when those routines are broken. More importantly, we come to realize how much he cares for those around him. This is most ably demonstrated through his conversations with Elaina and his interactions with Ralphie (Skourtis), one of his co-workers down at HomeMart. Washington's supporting cast helps him out just enough, too. Marton Csokas gives us a solidly detestable villain. In her brief screen time, Chloe Grace Moretz also does very well.

Once the movie transitions into our hero taking care of business, it becomes a very different affair. This part of the movie is loaded with action of the brutally violent sort. Mr. McCall makes use of things such as corkscrews, power drills, nail guns, and more. It's to the point where my wife expressed wariness of ever visiting a Home Depot ever again. Speaking of Home Depot, or Lowe's for that matter, how is it they didn't drop a few bucks to get their name on this? This would have functioned as the best commercial either company has ever had. Just imagine the logo of one of those stores being visible as Denzel Washington strolls away from an explosion in slow motion. By the way, I know such scenes are cliche, but the one in this movie might be the best one ever filmed. And I'm not exaggerating one bit. I generally roll my eyes when these happen in other action flicks. I even started to when I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was about to happen in this one. However, this one was so deliciously overboard that I couldn't help but love it. The action as a whole has this effect. Yes, it's over the top, but it is also done with a twisted sense of humor that comes across really well. Honestly, though, it makes the best use of this when the action happens off-screen. We'll see our hero immediately after he's done something heinous to a bad guy which we didn't get to see. It's usually funny enough that we don't mind missing out on what he actually did.

For those of us old enough to remember, and to care, the big question is how does it compare to the TV show that it was based on. I am old enough to remember. However, I must confess that I was never a fan of the show. I might have watched it a handful of times and really don't remember anything about it other than the star. This means that, sadly, I've no clue whether or not it does the show proud. I do know that it does the action genre proud. Once it gets going The Equalizer is insanely fun, provided you're not put off by all the blood and guts. The first act perfectly sets up the last two acts. It's a guy we like doing things we wish we could do for the people we care about. Admittedly, there are some late second act scenes that fill in some of our hero's back story, though not very much. The real point of these is to provide something that could be expanded on in sequels. Trust me, this movie clearly wants sequels. To be honest, though, it might be better as a standalone. In either case, it's Denzel showing us all that he can still carry a movie without a big name co-star and still be extremely compelling. That quality is what really makes this an excellent watch.


  1. Great review, I'm really looking forward to seeing this. Denzel does a great job at this kind of movie!
    - Allie

    1. Yes, he does. I had great fun with this one. When you see it, just be prepared because it is gory.

  2. I had my doubts seeing this one (anything with Chloe Moretz actually makes me doubtful of the movie), but I might see this one. Great review!

    1. I actually like her. If it helps, she doesn't have that much screen time.