Back With His Training Day Director, Denzel Washington Proves Himself A Badass Once More.
Director: Antoine Fuqua.
Writers: Richard Wenk, Michael Sloan (television series); Richard Wenk (screenplay).
Cast: Denzel Washington, Marton Csokas, Chloë Grace Moretz.
Playing At: Everywhere.
The Equalizer, based on the once-popular TV show of the same name, stars Denzel Washington as a lone heroic gunslinger named Robert McCall. In that '80s series, McCall was a man out to atone for his past sins, but Washington's McCall mostly just wants to be left alone.
Sure, he has a mysterious past, but he's just a quiet man these days. He leads a very simple life: He goes to work, he heads home and he reads at his favorite local diner. That's pretty much it.
After stopping off at the diner for some reading time, though, things change. It's here where McCall meets Teri (Chloë Grace Moretz), a prostitute who looks like she just ditched her training bra. Against all odds, these two forge a friendship — nothing more, nothing less. McCall's hope is that he can help Teri start to live an honest life.
But when an altercation with one of Teri's clients goes down outside of the diner, Teri stops showing up. So McCall, looking out for his pal, decides to pay the thugs behind the area prostitution ring a little visit.
I know what you're thinking, but you'd be wrong: McCall doesn't head into the bad guys' lair guns a-blazing. All he wants is peace. And, if he can, he'd rather avoid an altercation. Because, as he warns his foes, they probably won't like him when he's angry.
And so we see the character’s humility and patience, which director Antoine Fuqua shows off by holding off all of the fighting and violence that this film so unsurprisingly boastrs for as long as he can. First, McCall visits Teri’s pimp with an offer he shouldn’t refuse, offering to buy Teri's way out of the business so that she can live an honest life. And it's when the pimp refuses, berates McCall and then kicks him out of his office that the script starts to flip.
Turns out, McCall's kind of a badass after all. From this point on, the shit starts hitting the fan. And it's here where we start to learn a little bit about McCall's past, thanks to cameos from Bill Pullman and Melissa Leo. Granted, we don't learn much, but no matter: McCall's fast fists are two reasons enough to justify any backstory that the antagonists here may or may not believe.
And it's more than enough, too, to remind audiences that King Kong still ain't got shit on Denzel. In this role, Washington delivers a crushing combo of punches and attitude. He's cool, calm and collected when the tension is so thick that you could slice through it with a dull butter knife. His character is dangerous and he knows it — and the bona fide confidence Washington brings to the role never wavers.
None of this is altogether surprising: We've long known that Washington can pour out a delicious performance in any role he dresses himself in. Of course, it's when he's paired with Fuqua, who directed Washington's Oscar-winning turn in Training Day, that he's at his best. These two together are just an awesome pairing.
No, The Equalizer doesn't break new ground, but, really, it doesn't have to or want to. It's the film's throwback qualities — its old-fashioned shoot-'em-up plot, its pairing of an actor and a director who work so well together — that make it such a compelling watch.
And with its thrilling, iron-hot action, The Equalizer more than delivers there.