Now apparently The Equalizer is a remake of a television show from the 80’s but I’ve never watched it. I went in only seeing the (kind of bad) trailers and expecting very little.
The basic gist is that Denzel stars as a man named Robert McCall who is just trying to live a normal and quiet existence but he ends up roped into some giant Russian mob business and gets a very dangerous man sent to find and kill him. Chloe Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass, If I Stay) stars as a young prostitute who works for these mob bosses and McCall ends up stepping in to protect her and that’s what gets him stuck in the middle of this. The big bad villain in the story is Marton Csokas, who is one of the best go-to villains in the business today.
So what works?
Denzel is just so damn cool. Even when he’s saying very little, he manages to come off as a complete badass. You can see tiny little changes in his eyes when things are about to blow up and he delivers a chilling performance yet still subtle.
Csokas is one of those faces you’ll recognize but not be quite sure where from. He delivers a great performance here, stealing every scene he’s in. And to stand toe-to-toe with Denzel is quite a feat but Csokas does a great job making you absolutely hate him and it makes our climax of the finale absolutely worth waiting for.
This film is directed by Antoine Fuqua, who directed Training Day, Olympus Has Fallen, and Shooter. He’s absolutely nailed how to build suspense and that matters a lot here because we don’t have that many action sequences but the ones that occur in our final act are only satisfying because of the suspense we’ve built up.
And is the finale worth the wait? Absolutely. Denzel and Csokas both deliver incredible performances in one of the most chilling action showdowns I’ve seen recently.
What doesn’t work?
The movie holds back most of the big action sequences til the final act, so the first big chunk of the movie can feel a little slow as we basically just watch crappy stuff happen to Denzel’s character and he eventually gets sick of it. The movie does feel much longer than it really is because there are a lot of quiet and slow moments for our characters.
And here’s something weird that happens… There’s a big question of who he really is. Like, what did he do before this? What makes him so dangerous? When we (kind of) find out, we get a scene with some big actors but it feels like it’s a sequel to some movie that was never made. We get a reveal of these characters in a way that felt like we should somehow know them. As soon as I got home, I was searching for if The Equalizer was a sequel to some other action movie or something and as far as I can tell, it’s only the remake of an old show. But these big actors weren’t in that show. So… What? We got zero introduction to who they were and it was a big enough of a weird scene to have me rush home just to try to figure it out. It was a weird move.
The trailers were unimpressive but The Equalizer is actually really cool. It does take a lot of time to get to the good stuff, but all this prep work makes these final scenes mean so much more than they would in any other action movie. Denzel Washington and Marton Csokas deliver great performances, so this movie is definitely worth checking out if you want a good revenge action movie.