REVIEW — “The Equalizer”
“The Equalizer” is a theatrical reboot of a hit 80s show, but this time Denzel Washington is fulfilling his bad-ass destiny. While Denzel has had memorable action roles in films like “Man on Fire” and “2 Guns” this is HIS franchise. This is his “Taken.” In fact, he is one of the few good things you can say about this generic shoot em’ up.
Running a little over 2 hours long this is bogged down with useless exposition and unexplained plot points, and it beats you over the head with unneeded symbolism in an attempt to try to differ itself from similar genre fare. Basically, this is the story of a man with a mysterious past who gets involved in something he isn’t supposed to, and it makes him go back to doing something he does(n’t) like doing. Sounds a lot like “The Rundown,” “The Transporter,” and any number of others. The only places director Antoine Fuqua, who I love, excels is with Denzel and the action scenes themselves.
While the story is generic, bloated, and not exciting it is propelled by its action scenes. It takes a little while for us to get to our first action sequence, but it quickly becomes apparent that Denzel is the PERFECT choice for “The Equalizer” as he brings a eerie quiet and calm intensity to the action. The first action scene really sets off the actual movie, and makes you wonder why it took them so long to get to it. The weak character development beforehand was not worth the 20+ minutes of waiting (especially when one of those characters disappears for the duration of the story until the very end). The rest of the action plays out exceptionally well, but only suffers from the weak and generic story in-between butt-whoopings. I really dug how they had one huge scene with a massive explosion, but didn’t need to show you HOW he did it because he is just that awesome.
They made Denzel’s character believable, and you never once doubt his capabilities. Denzel Washington continues to be one of the best actors working today because of the full range of emotion he can portray on the screen, and I’m glad he is choosing the action/thriller genre as his new home. The days of “The Preacher’s Wife” and “Much Ado About Nothing” are at an end, and we’re all better for it. The rest of the supporting cast was great, albeit under used. Chloe Grace Moretz is billed as a title character, and ends up with less than 15 minutes of screen time. Marton Csokas and Melissa Leo were equally impressive, but were poorly developed and could have been used so much better. Bill Pullman (“Lake Placid”) is in this too, but for little reason outside of being Leo’s husband, but that’s at no fault to him.
What we have here is something that strives to be more than it really is: typical action. The writing was too weak, and the editing too poor, for this to be any more than a typical action flick. The bloated run-time and unoriginal story will have many leaving saying, “Those were some cool action scenes,” but nothing else. I was also very unsatisfied with the ‘boss battle.’ Denzel nails it, but the sequel, that was setup perfectly, needs to bring something fresh to the table. 3/5