The Equalizer (2014)

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When we saw the trailer for this film the thought, just another Denzel killing a bunch of people movie, went through my head. Many of these same preconceived notions we had about the Equalizer were similar to John Wick, which was a fine film. And let’s be honest, Denzel Washington’s ability to carry a movie is far superior to Keanu Reeves and because of that this film had some promise in my eyes. Warning: This film is a gruesome and extremely violent movie.

The Equalizer follows Robert McCall’s (Denzel Washington) journey to bring down the Russian Mafia after his new friend Teri (Chloe Grace Moretz) was severely beaten by her pimp Slavi. The beginning of this movie is almost solely dedicated to develop McCall, Teri and their relationship, along with other characters. McCall, a hardware store worker, is a caring man who helps those around him. Through his interactions with his co-workers it is clear that he is well-liked and also a life coach to his friend Ralphie. Then night comes, this is when director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) digs deeper into Washington’s character by displaying his dealings with insomnia. During his sleepless nights, McCall goes to a 24/7 dinner and that is where he builds his relationship with a teenage prostitute, Teri. These conversations are well-written and really drive these characters towards their conclusion. McCall gives advice to Teri, telling her “Got to be who you are in this world, no matter what.” While he was trying to guide Teri to a better life, McCall was also struggling with these inspired words and with who he really is.

“The two most important days of your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” This quote from Mark Twain is the first thing to appear on screen during the Equalizer. McCall’s character development and figuring out why he was born is a driving force for this movie and a really intriguing centerpiece to work with. Where this movie loses steam is its all too familiar, boring and clichéd plot. Fuqua and Washington do their best with what they have to work with. The directing is stylized and slick and Washington does McCall better than anyone could, even though we wish he would stop doing these types of roles. Also, the whole one man easily killing a multitude of people while being calm about it, for me is just mind numbing and systematic now. The action scenes were cool, don’t get me wrong, but they were not intense or breathtaking because it seemed too easy for Denzel.

Final Thoughts: The Equalizer is an all too familiar action movie with nothing new to say. While the direction is clear, and acting is good, the plot lets us all down. The writing was actually pretty good aside from the plot. The dialogue was well-written (for the most part) and the character development was excellent. But in the end The Equalizer did not capture our praise because of McCall being the invisible man during the action scenes and the over told plot.