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THE EQUALIZER (review)

equalizerTHE EQUALIZER
Written by Richard Wenk
Directed by Antoine Fuqua

Starring Denzel Washington and Martin Csokas

For the first twenty or thirty minutes of THE EQUALIZER, nothing really happens. Denzel Washington plays Robert McCall, or Bob to his friends. Bob works at a home renovation store, helps coworkers with their diets and spends his nights reading the classics at a diner because he can’t sleep. There is nothing particularly special about him but there obviously has to be something about him, otherwise, why would we be watching this movie? Well, this is a question that I unfortunately was never able to get to the bottom of, and after watching this joke of a film, it is also a question I wish I had never had to ask myself.

For no discernible reason other than human decency, he decides one day to take on a group of Russian gangsters who are pimping out and beating up young girls, one of which (Chloe Grace Moretz) frequented the diner he reads at. The Russians don’t buy into his offer to buy the girl back from him so he kills them all. This normal, somewhat elderly gentleman scans the room as if he is part terminator and takes down the five or six guys that are there without any difficulty whatsoever. Who is this Bob fellow? How is he so amazing at killing people? And so creative at it too! (That corkscrew through the guy’s chin? Such creative flair, Bob!) We only find out much later in this very long film what makes Bob such a formidable killing machine so until then, we are just left wondering and thinking how completely implausible this all is. With that many people in the room, how did not one of them react fast enough to shoot Bob in the head? Did these people just join the mob yesterday? Anyway, Bob didn’t realize these guys were connected to the real Russian mob and when he finds this out, he decides that he singlehandedly has to take them down so that he can live happily ever after in peace.

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THE EQUALIZER is directed by Antoine Fuqua, who once directed Washington all the way to a Best Actor Oscar for TRAINING DAY. Their latest pairing is all kinds of wrong. This is not a Denzel Washington movie; this is a Liam Neeson action movie. We already have an old guy who is inexplicably trained for any given combat situation and who can take down dozens of strong men with guns without once getting hit by any of the countless bullets shot his way. Even Fuqua doesn’t seem to believe audiences will fully buy into Washington’s abilities, as much of the action often takes place off screen. How did Bob manage to get an entire factory of mob men to put down their weapons and tie themselves up to wait for the police to arrive? He just did, is all the explanation you need, as you can plainly see the end result but not what got him there. This trickery is repeated often in the film but my favourite usage is when Bob blows up a giant tanker without showing us how he does it. All he has to do is walk away while it explodes spectacularly behind him. Pretty impressive for an old guy. Totally unbelievable and often laughable too but that was clearly never a consideration here.

1 sheep

 

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How many sheep would you give The Equalizer?

 

11 Comments

  1. Regardless of this review… I just want to point out to the reviewer that Washington was doing Neeson-like action movies before Neeson was known to do actions movies – “Taken” was in 2008, but lest we forget “Man on Fire”, “Deja Vu”, “The Book of Eli”, “Safe House” and “2 Guns”.
    Not sure what you have in mind when you think of Denzel Washington flicks, Joseph… but, for the rest of us, that’s what we have in mind, and that’s being like this for awhile now.

    • I’m not sure I had anything specific in mind for this film but the pairing of Washington and Fuqua was Oscar worthy the first time around so I don’t think it would be too much of a stretch to hope for that again. I haven’t seen all the Washington films you’ve referenced but I would say Safe House and 2 Guns, despite their flaws, are attempts at plausibility, whereas The Equalizer seemed less concerned with that. I guess my ultimate hopes were for Washington to do something worthwhile again and this felt like he wasn’t trying whatsoever. Thanks for reading.

  2. critics are idiots..and they are paid too

    • Critics are critics, not idiots. To be critical does not make one an idiot; it makes one discerning. Also, I paid out of pocket to see this film and nobody paid me for my opinion after the fact. Thanks for reading though!

  3. The Equalizer deserves a better rating than what you gave it; perhaps you knew that and knew viewers would be quick to respond in favor of what is one of the best action thrillers many have seen in a while. People were gasping, laughing and applauding in the packed theatre. It’s a must see, people!

    • I don’t rate films to illicit responses from readers. I rate films based on my experience watching the film. I found this film to be very far fetched and poorly told. I also didn’t find the action particularly interesting either. Again, that’s my experience of the film. I’m happy to hear you and the audience you saw the film with enjoyed the film though. Thanks for reading!

  4. One darn good movie!! The acting and direction were superior to that in Training Day. The Equalizer is done like a movie should be…entertaining. It will make you think too!

  5. This review was spot on. Just a terrible story, plot, and overall movie. I wanted to leave several times and my friend fell asleep during it.

    • Finally! Someone who agrees with me! I saw it during TIFF and debated napping during it too. I stuck with it though. Unfortunately. Thanks for reading!

  6. Sorry Joseph. Totally disagree with your review again. Well.. Maybe not totally.. Agreed it was not oscar worthy and people would be disappointed if they expected anything like Training Day. But come on .. When aren’t we asked to suspend belief in an non stop action movie these days? I think this serves up the perfect solution for those hungering for a good Action Revenge/ Vigilante film. In fact the kind of people who like this kind of film will be more then pleased because it delivers and then some! However this is not the kind of movie to go to if you are looking for any kind of deep meaning. But Denzel takes the Vigilante Movie to another Level. because he is such an incredibly solid actor. I loved watching him take out the bad guys. I thought the fight scenes were very well executed. What stood out to me was ALL the acting was excellent. The actor who played the nasty piece of work Teddy ( Marton Csokos I think ) was riveting. The casting director of this film really did her job well. Lasty , my eyes and movie companions eyes were glued to the screen the whole time. I think the mark of a great Director and Editor. Perhaps those looking for meaning and clever intelligent twists, should avoid the film! But for a good solid ( yes I will give you predictable) it more then delivers and Denzel is the man!

    • Thanks again for another great debate but I’m not going to budge on this one. The suspension of disbelief is not a given. I don’t expect to be intellectually challenged by a film like this but I do expect it to be remotely plausible. Let alone that the first 30-40 minutes of this film basically feature Washington reading books and helping a friend stick to his diet, everything that follows was just ridiculous to me. Denzel is not a young man and I don’t care if its ageist to say this but there is no way he can take down a dozen guys with guns with his bare hands. Most of the action that follows the first main sequence is implied and not seen on screen, which I thought was very lame and a real cheat to the audience. I know a lot of people have enjoyed this film but I thought it was poorly constructed and even more poorly executed. Unless you have knowledge of the TV series it is based upon, you have no idea why he is so damn good at killing people until about 20 minutes before it ends. So we’re supposed to just believe he’s just an amazing bad ass but then we don’t even get to see him be that bad ass. Like, how did he get an entire warehouse of mob thugs to surrender to him? We don’t know because they don’t show us. I will repeat again too that the last collaboration between Washington and this director led Washington to an Oscar win. It is not that much of a stretch to think they might recreate some of that same chemistry by working together. Anyway, as far as action movies go, this one was too brain dead for me to get on board with. This is not to say I don’t like action movies at all but just that insisting that one shut their brain off entirely to enjoy something is not really a strong defence for any film. Thanks again for reading and responding!

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