When you have a Denzel Washington movie you can be sure that fans are going to flock into the theaters to see the legend himself. Today I went back into the trenches of the local theater to watch Mr. Washington’s latest adventure entitled the Equalizer. This film based on a television series from the past, has promised some dark justice being served in the streets of New York City with the hint of action that many movie goers have come to expect. Yet is this just another knockoff Taken, or is there actually something that helps this movie stick out?
For those who haven’t seen the trailers, The Equalizer’s plot is about Robert McCall, a retired special forces agent, who chooses a simpler life of working and reading after some major life event. Of course, the dark world that he dove into seldom leaves it’s denizens alone, and McCall finds himself back into the bowels of darkness to correct the problems at hand. And just like the trailers promise, this movie is indeed dark in nature. After a rather drawn out introduction into the world, the first mission, as seen in the trailer, rips off the training wheels and throws you into throngs of violence. Using the power of quick observation, a knock off of Sherlock Holmes, Washington brings his skills of improvised weapons use on to the screen. While this is clever, and quite awesome, the downside is the amount of gore that follows his moves, and the areas to which those devices are inserted. Should you go see this film, there is hardly any censorship in this film, but instead an eyeful of sharp objects being slowly jammed into the unfortunate victims. What makes it even worse, is the sounds the victims make, especially during the prolonged moments where the victim seems to be savoring the kill. Some of course will like this, but for this reviewer there is a limit to how much hostility one can take in a movie. Unfortunately this scene is not isolated, as the carnage and suffering only get more intense with each body added to the count.
Intense suffering aside, the next component that you might be wondering about is the action that is promised in the film. So what about it? Well it depends on what you define as action. If you are thinking of action like Taken, where our “hero” moves through the setting with superhuman reflexes, firing bullets with one hit kill accuracy that many gamers would kill for, then you will be disappointed. Instead this action is a bit more conserved, focusing more on using his mind then tearing up the bad guys with force. Sure McCall has some moves that you want to see, especially close up, martial arts moves to disable the weapon from their hands. Yet the fight scenes often involve slamming someone’s face viciously into an object, and are over in a matter of seconds from the beginning. Such brief spurts of action, were fine, but for an action movie I had expected a little more excitement and a little less torture. At the end, the battle was a little more to my expectations, though still filled with gruesome kills, some of which, I have to admit, were pretty sweet to see, sort of like Home Alone meets the Punisher. No matter what the scene is though, Denzel Washington brings the edge that you expected to see, so much that a few in the audience yelled, “He is such a bad…” well I won’t finish that quote.
What else is there to say about this movie? You can pretty much guess that it is all about Denzel, with just about every scene having the legend in it. Luckily his acting is still top notch, and brings a lot to the movie in just his character. As for the story, well it’s alright in some places, but for the most part it’s rather plain. The main plot itself has very little sustenance, with what seemed to be a slight attempt to interlock the cases with a big mafia group. It failed for me though, and the mafia group became nothing more, than more bodies for Denzel to pile up. Denzel’s character has little story development, the fragments we get hastily explained and sometimes ill-timed that it loses any value. Perhaps the only thing that really develops his character, is his “fight” to fall back into the soulless monster he was prior to the movie as he doles out justice. Yes, one will feel a mixture of emotions at the bad guys getting their just desserts, but aside from that there isn’t much emotional stimulation behind this film. As for the dialog and humor, they are not strong enough to make up for the story. References to classic literature being integrated into the morals was a plus for me, a nice twist to the typical, overdramatic scenes we often get. Yet these heart filled moments are offset by yet another curse laden dialogue that seems to become the common trend. Guess they will never learn huh?
Overall The Equalizer is an okay film, but failed for me on on a lot of levels. Fans who will enjoy this the most are those who think Denzel can do no wrong, and those who just want dark, twisted kills. The legendary actor still impresses me with his commitment, but for this reviewer, Mr. Washington cannot carry this movie for an entire two hours. My scores for this film are:
Movie Overall: 6.0