It may have a slow opening with ample space to breathe into the life of Denzel Washington’s character but don’t let this kind of too long beginning fool you, as when Washington becomes the man he’s been hiding then you’re in for a whirlwind of loud noises and brutal dispatches.
A friendly and extremely kind yet precise and ordered man by the name of McCall or Bob (Denzel Washington) has a job and a collection of literary classics to read but it’s clear there’s something deeper concerning his background. It takes the harsh female beating of diner chum and nighttime call girl Teri (Chloe Grace Moretz) for this clinical and efficient side of Bob’s to surface. Though by getting involved in the prostitution circle Teri was trapped in, Bob now has to keep one step ahead of some imposing Russian gangsters led by Teddy (Marton Csokas) and become the man people rely on, the Equalizer.
I’ve never seen the TV show, only ever heard of it, so I have no idea how close to the series this sticks apart from casting Denzel is a stark opposite to the original but he’s Denzel so he’s fantastic. If this movie, by employing a reasonable amount of slo-mo and defined extreme close ups resembles the style of the show then kudos and if not then they’ve mastered a stylish and crystal clear method to tell this action thriller story. Either way they win. Of course, not seeing the show from the 1980’s I don’t know if this plot in any way takes ideas or elements from an episode or episodes plural. It’s a good enough plot though even if it does fall back on the expected Russian vs American cliche. There’s a lot in the film to suspend your disbelief at too, let the awesome mind and tactics of McCall/Bob wash over you and you’ll mightily enjoy it, otherwise you may not.
The music was a stand out quality for me, that may or may not be because of the booming impact IMAX speakers have, but it certainly keeps up that edge of grungy suspenseful darkness which works in favour of the impending circle of Russian mobsters and the way in which McCall can flip in a matter of seconds between normal civilian to hard nosed killer. There were at least a few moments that got me sitting upright and only part of that is down to the newly installed stiff chairs in the screen. Be it extremely loud gunfights or bangs or nail biting scenes of tension this film does deliver on those points.
It’s a heck of a vehicle for demonstrating how tension can be done right, especially in the final climax between McCall and a host of Russian baddies. The closed and near pitch black setting of a B&Q style home depot store lets the tension settle into your skin like an unshakable rash of nerves. It might be like an adult version of ‘Home Alone’ but there’s no denying that the ways people die in this scene and the film in general are pretty dark and bloody.
I think it’s up there as one of the better films to come out this year, it may have a Hollywood ending, it may not be thought inducing or subtle but it’s tense and racks up the revenge thriller reading to a number not identifiable on the dial. It’s obvious there’s a set up for sequels and that excites me because seeing what other insane ways this Equalizer can come up with to get even and serve justice like a real life Batman gives scope for more action and thrills. Some people might think it’s too long which I sort of agree with and others may think it’s too violent but it works for this character and the seedy world he got himself thrown into. A solid film that sells more so because of Washington as a star.
Denzel Washington is pure badass in this film. It helps that he can demonstrate that nice guy next door vibe to really display the differences in mode his character has. The OCD angle to set up the past he had and the way he can deal with situations is acted lightly and well, pushing aside the sometime annoying CGI zooms and pans from his eyes to the room around him as he sees a way to come out on top. When he really does kick into gear and becomes the Equalizer he sells it completely, he’s even scary at times in the bold and brutal way he goes about offing people in his way. Chloe Grace Moretz of course has a top billing thanks to her status but she’s not in it much at all though in the very little screentime she gets she proves what a diverse talented actress she is. The big bad played Csokas is brooding and dominant in his crash course to find out who McCall is and stop him. It’s a steely almost inhuman look he possesses throughout and you never know how he’s going to react so top acting from him.
I found it entertaining, delightfully violent to help the story along, it was a little too slow and long at times and of course it takes a lot to swallow but damn it, get a glass of water and swallow that pill of disbelief because it’s worth it. Kick-ass, almost non stop and tense to the last.