Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Equalizer

Based on the 80s television show of the same name, The Equalizer stars Denzel Washington as a retired military officer with a mysterious past attempting to live a normal life. That normalcy is shattered when an acquaintance (Chloƫ Grace Moretz) is hospitalized by her pimp (David Meunier) sending Robert McCall in search of justice which will lead him on a one man crusade against crooked cops and the Russian mob.

Washington feels a bit out of place here in a script by Richard Wenk more befitting Steven Seagal in the prime of his B-movie action days. Unsure at times whether it wants to be a drama or old school action/revenge flick, The Equalizer is at its best when it allows McCall to take off the gloves and get to work (such as the movie's climactic sequence involving several inventive deaths using various implements at the Home Depot where McCall is currently employed).

Eventually the ridiculous scope of what McCall's quest gets the better of the screenwriter as the script ends in a ludicrous epilogue following the retail warehouse final battle. When it keeps McCall's actions smaller, and a bit more plausible, the movie has more success.

Marton Csokas is cast as the main baddie of the film, a fixer sent by the head of the Russian mob from the motherland to deal with the mysterious American eventually costing the organization tens of millions of dollars. The character has all the personality of a plywood table, but does present a difficult hurdle for McCall to clear before finally reaching the finish line.

I only vaguely remember the television show starring Edward Woodward on which the film was based where the main character helped out those in need on a week-to-week basis, but I doubt the scope of his weekly projects ever got as insane as the what we witness here which makes Taken look like a father picking up his daughter from summer camp.

The Equalizer isn't a bad movie but, aside from Washington's performance, it does put forth the effort to be a good one either. The more dramatic scenes add weight to Washington's character but the overly-serious scenes also weigh down what is an increasingly absurd shoot 'em up that doesn't ever acknowledge just how implausible it becomes. Fans of Washington and/or throwaway action films may find some momentary enjoyment here, but the movie does little to sell me on a possible franchise centered around the character which the final scene suggests could be a definite possibility.

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