The Equalizer is directed by Antoine Fuqua who has a long tradition in directing gritty thrillers and whose output includes Shooter (2007), Tears of The Sun (2003) and The Replacement Killers (1998). The film draws upon a script by Richard Wenk who in the past has written The Mechanic (2011) and 16 Blocks (2006). In this outing Fuqua teams up once again with Denzel Washington, a pairing that won an Oscar for Training Day (2001).
The film is loosely based on the 80’s TV series of the same name starring Edward Woodward. Robert McCall (Washington) is a quiet unassuming man who keeps his nose clean working in a large DIY store / warehouse. He is well liked by his peers and spends his spare time reading and keeping his small apartment fastidiously clean. There are signs that maybe, just maybe, McCall is not as he first appears. Everything he does is neat and precise. He sets his stopwatch to time how long it takes to complete every task.
The Equalizer starts to reveal its true identity as a film after McCall befriends a young lady in the local coffee shop, Teri (Chloe Grace Moretz), who we learn works for a local gang. Teri is beaten up and lands in hospital and this is the signal for McCall to go into action …
There are a lot of things that can be said about this film and not all of them very polite. The opening act is a relatively slow burn and we see into McCall’s apparently small and private world. This is quite interesting and there is a discussion between McCall and Teri about whether we as people can ever escape our true nature / past. But once the violence begins (and it is violent) the ante increases and events become increasingly preposterous culminating at one point with an explosion of an oil tanker.
McCall finds some truly innovative ways to despatch his foes, including a cork screw and shot glass, as using guns is far too predictable. The finale takes place in the DIY store so with all that hardware around Mr McCall is a kid in a candy store. I’ll never look at a drill in the same way again. The Russian gangsters are led by Teddy (Martin Csokas) who has more tattoos than David Beckham and the accent is amazing. There is a cartoonish quality to the bad guys and its stereotypes ahoy.
Amazingly none of the good guys die and there appear to be no consequences for McCall as he leaves a trail of mobsters and blood in his wake. There is plenty to criticise in this film and no doubt it will be dismissed by the more high brow. However, I was thoroughly entertained from start to finish. I recognise all of the faults with the film and I just don’t give a ****. The film is shot with style and panache by Fuqua and the soundtrack is just as cool. It builds in all the right places and I felt my body going tense and a little shaky. The Equalizer was getting to me on an emotional level.
I believe the film appealed to me because I am attracted to the idea of standing up for the little guy and secretly I want to be able to do what McCall does. I would have more lowly goals though and would target discourteous drives and teenagers who ride their bikes on pavements intimidating pedestrians.
In summary if you have no interest in revenge thrillers and don’t like excessive violence I would probably stay away from The Equalizer but if you want to see Denzel do his thing pop your coat on and get down to your local world of cine – you won’t be disappointed.