I had heard that The Equalizer was ‘The Punisher movie you want to see’. I never watched the original TV show but I was aware of the concept. The lone angry man with deadly skills genre has been alive and well for decades. This one has a lot going for it. Antoine Fuqua’s last movie before this was Olympus Has Fallen which felt like the best Die Hard sequel since the original. And having Fuqua team with Denzel again after their previous successes like Training Day is a great idea.
The first thing I noticed about The Equalizer was that it’s beautiful. I don’t know what cameras were used, but the textures and scenery in The Equalizer is occasionally jaw dropping. Cinematographer Mauro Fiore did some really amazing work here on the sort of movie that doesn’t usually get this kind of attention.
As the movie starts out, Denzel is playing a quiet man named McCall. McCall is in his 50s who works at a hardware store, keeps to himself, and more than anything stays in a set pattern. His OCD seems to make his life work like clockwork. He lives the life of a simple man, but it’s clear that things weren’t always simple for him.
He has trouble sleeping so he regularly goes to an all-night diner and reads. When something bad happens to a young hooker who is a regular at the diner, McCall chooses not to ignore it.
The first time we experience McCall’s violence, it’s reminiscent of a super hero movie. He has a keen situational awareness that borders on the supernatural. The key difference here is that Fuqua never even tries to get a PG-13 rating. The violence is bloody, quick, and brutal and Denzel does it better than most.
There’s a scene later in the movie where someone says, “He wasn’t asking for help. He was asking permission.” This is what makes the movie not so much a revenge film as it is a vigilante film. McCall isn’t looking for payback. He’s simply found an excuse to use his deadly skills on bad people. The hooker he’s avenging is practically an afterthought.
One interesting quirk of The Equalizer is that McCall never uses a gun. It’s never explicitly stated why he doesn’t use one and it makes for more visceral violent scenes when he chooses to be deadly, but it’s also almost distracting. Why go to all the trouble of killing people in the many and various ways he does when he could just shoot them and be done with it?
As angry-man-with-deadly-skills movies go, The Equalizer is entirely enjoyable and fun to watch. It’s a solid action movie and it never strives to be anything more than that.
While the rest of the movie is populated with both big name and unknown actors who do good work, none of it really stands out. This is a one man show and Denzel Washington is that man. He is The Equalizer.
– Jack Cameron
You can rent or purchase The Equalizer at this link.
Tomorrow’s Review: Chef