The Equalizer (7/10)
by Tony Medley
Runtime 128 minutes.
Not for children.
Based on a 1980s TV series of the same name, Denzel Washington plays
McCall, who is strikingly reminiscent of Lee Child’s protagonist, Jack
Reacher, in that he is a loner who takes on seemingly quixotic battles
against extraordinarily bad people.
Relatively well directed by Antoine Fuqua from a script by Richard Wenk,
the problem that I had with the movie was that I never for a moment felt
that McCall was ever anything short of being in total control, and never
felt he was in any danger, robbing the film of the apprehension
thrillers need. Despite this, my companion at the screening said that
she felt the tension was so high it was causing her to shake, so maybe I
have just become too blasé when watching thrillers like this.
Without a gun, McCall takes on people from the Russian mob who are
brutal killers. The shtick is that when he senses danger he goes into
some sort of state where he seems to scan the room electronically
determining what he’s going to do to whom and sets a time limit for it.
Sometimes he even sets the timer on his watch.
What makes this film better than average are the supporting actors
playing members of the Russian mob. David Meunier, Alex Veadov, Vitaliy
Shtabnoy, and Matt Lasky, are instantly believable as bloodthirsty
psychopaths. The main bad guy, Teddy (Martin Csokas) is as phlegmatic as
McCall, but is the biggest sociopath of them all, killing with enjoyment
and not a scintilla of emotion. David Harbour gives a fine performance
as Frank Masters, a corrupt Boston cop. Chloë Grace Moretz is convincing
as the young prostitute, Teri, that McCall helps that gets him involved
with the brutal gang of killers.
Filled with a lot of graphic violence, Fuqua (who directed Denzel to an
Oscar® in 2001’s Training Day) knows how to keep the tension
rising and is a master at pace which, after a relatively slow start,
never flags. Alas, Denzel’s character is far more one dimensional than
what he played in Training Day. This film is really just a day at
the office for him. Notwithstanding the A-list participants, this is
barely more than a run of the mill action film, hardly worthy of the
talent involved, and a story that certainly shouldn’t have taken more
than two hours to tell. Still, it’s entertaining and emotionally