October 1, 2014

Movie Review: The Equalizer (2014)

I have vague memories of The Equalizer television show, but I was more of a Knight Rider and The A-Team kind of guy, besides, I think I keep mixing it up with Spenser for Hire. I guess it really doesn't matter, at some point they will all be adapted to movies with current movie trends (I guess Spenser might be next?). Anyway, the movie take on the 1980's series has arrived with Denzel Washington stepping into the Edward Woodward role. It took theaters by storm in its opening weekend and seems to have been rather well received. Well, now having seen it myself, I enjoyed it but it is far from great. The Equalizer is entertainingly forgettable.

The Equalizer was directed by Antoine Fuqua, who has been making serviceable action thrillers for years, although he seems to have peaked way back in 2001 with Training Day. With that said, it is nice to see Fuqua and Washington reunited, they do seem to work well together, even if the overall feature is a little lackluster. Screenplay duties were handled by Richard Wenk, who also wrote The Expendables 2 and the underrated 16 Blocks.

Denzel Washington stars as Robert McCall, a mild mannered worker at a Home Depot-esque store. He lives a timed and regimented life, which stems from a past as a CIA operative. All he wants is to be left to live his quiet and simple life. His life includes very little sleep, which he covers for by going to a diner for a cup of tea and some reading. These late night trips have seen him develop a friendship with a young prostitute named Teri (Chloe Grace Moretz). One day he witnesses Teri getting roughed up by her pimp and he cannot stand by. You know, with great power comes great... blah, blah, blah.

McCall steps in and what follows is a battle between McCall and a branch of a Russian crime syndicate. More specifically, it is a showdown between McCall and the crime boss's fixer, a fellow named Teddy (Martin Csokas), a certifiable psychopath. It all builds and builds to an explosive showdown, where we get to see just how resourceful McCall can be.

I liked the movie, but it felt a bit too long and by the numbers. It moves from point A to point B without really growing. The progress felt more robotic than organic in its flow. What The Equalizer could have used would be a more human element. There is some great chemistry between Washington and Moretz, but she disappears for the majority of the movie and with that, a lot of the heart is removed. Sure, there is the stuff with Ralphie (Johnny Skourtis), but it doesn't fill the whole left in the film's humanity. What is left feels cold, somewhat clinical. It is kind of like a superhero movie where instead of brightly colored spandex, the hero took lessons from Jigsaw (from Saw) and Kevin Mcallister (from Home Alone).

The Equalizer is entertaining in the short term. Denzel brings a certain something to the movie and makes it watchable. He is an old world styled movie star, the likes of which we don't see anymore. Also, Martin Csokas is a cold-blooded villain and that helps. So, yeah, go ahead and see it, you really won't be disappointed, but you may find yourself needing to watch another movie shortly after.


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