The Equalizer follows retired agency man Robert McCall (Denzel Washington). He as a normal but off kilter old man working at a home depot center but delves into his ruthless life as a cold killer in the pursuit of justice and peace. What follows is a typical thriller with conventional scenes, peppered with a few guilty pleasures.
Chances are that if you watch the first 20 minutes of The Equalizer you can and will predict how the rest, which happens to be 30 minutes too long, will play out. McCall is a typical cheer-me-on-good-guy; he jokes around with his colleagues, he loves his late wife and he helps young preyed-on Russian girls. The Russian pimps are the villains and they can all be identified by their over the top tattoos and their eccentric facial hair. The police are corrupt and you can never trust them. That fat character there will help the hero to a triumphant win and make you feel bad for sneering at him. I mean the film is chock full of ordinary scenes and ordinary performances.
The guilty pleasures start when McCall sets his watch. Like Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes, there is a pause before every fight. An assessment of the situation as the hero plans his take down strategy. There are a few good action sequences in the film that appear well shot through steady cam and are thankfully absent of nonsensical shaky camera work.
The film evolves, at a healthy pace, into a fusion of Jack Reacher and MacGyver as McCall takes down what seems like the entire Russian mob with some Home Depot resources. The last 20 minutes are perhaps the most rewarding and most enjoyable because it ditches the story and replaces it with good old action in a dark atmosphere backed by Zack Hemsey’s ‘Vengeance’. It is by no means a work of art. It was, however, littered with shameless indulgences like slow motion cool-guys-don’t-look-at-explosions and jacked up Home Alone inventive kill scenes.
The Equalizer is a fun dumb time in the company of Denzel Washington. Make no mistake about it – this is a generic action flick with some pretentious undertones. It knows what animal it is and has no intentions to be something more, something different or something new. Instead talent like Melissa Leo, Bill Pullman, Chloe Moretz and Denzel Washington show up, act at half their talent, if that, and cash the cheque. With which they will go on to fund smaller passion projects that we will enjoy as a result.
Score – C