The film summary says,
"A man believes he has put his mysterious past behind him and has dedicated himself to beginning a new, quiet life. But when he meets a young girl under the control of ultra-violent Russian gangsters, he can't stand idly by - he has to help her."
And the "mysterious past" is a huge key reference here, but let's start anew for a moment.
The Equalizer is a fair movie based off of a 1985 television series, about a man named Robert McCall. In the show, the man helped people in need, The TV series starred Edward Woodward as a retired espionage/intelligence officer. He used his past "talents" to deal out a kind of justice on behalf of innocent people who found themselves in dangerous circumstances. In a way, he was working off a personal debt for deeds committed while working for "the agency," or atone for past actions.
I remember liking that show. So when I saw news that this film was coming out, and with Washington in the lead role, I was pretty excited about it.
My timing was such that I never got to theater to see it, but when it came to TV, I was all over it.
It was directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, Shooter) off a script by Richard Wenk (The Expendables 2). It seemed to have some pretty solid talent behind it.
Before I go on, I have to say that they spent $55M making the film and it made $155M worldwide, with plans for a sequel in the works. IMDb users scored it at 7.2.
So I am totally not sure why I came away from watching this movie happy that I didn't drop the bucks or time to go see it. It's not that it was bad. The action was fun, but the glue of the story between bursts of violence was lacking even for me.
Let me explain:
The film starts out with us following McCall (Washington) for a bit and we learn how meticulous he is in his solitary life, and how much he cares about his peers, co-workers and the like.
In one particular case, he befriends a young hooker named Teri (Moretz), who through terrible circumstances, gets put into a hospital by her Russian pimp, who also happens to run the smuggling trade in the city.
McCall gets quietly infuriated at the turn of events that put his new friend in hospital and takes it upon himself to offer the pimp money to take her off his hands, but the pimp declines. Bad call pimp buddy. McCall starts his stopwatch and proceeds to kill everyone in the room.
This is not a good thing, because that pimp answered to a much more evil person who comes over from Russia, named Teddy (Marton Csokas) to fix this problem, this person. His methods are much more harsh than the pimp/smuggler.
And the film goes from there.
I wasn't aware, but most characters need motivation and I was not clear what actually motivated McCall. I get the generic distaste for evil and that being a great motivator, but I didn't feel it. I never was shown what I was looking for, and that was something about his past. Sure, we got a little bit of it when the second evil trafficker shows up, but that was it.
I usually enjoy Denzel movies. He tends to pull it out of a hat if the story struggles, except for this flick.
His portrayal of McCall was one of stoic, confident, focused revenge. And he did it beautifully. But there was something missing for me that I could not put my finger on.
I used to be tired of what motivated characters when I was younger, but now a days, I need to see why we're motivated to do what the characters do in movies. It seems to make if feel better when the bad guy's face gets punched in. And I think with that mostly gone, the glue I needed to hold it all together was also gone.
I gave it a 6 over on IMDb and I think that is about right for me. A popcorn 6. I'm glad I did not drop the money or time to see it in theaters, and I am glad I finally did get to see it.
I will probably go ahead and catch the sequel and see if we get more out of his drive than we did in this film.
If you're an action junky who likes to see the mind of a violent vigilante click into gear just before he wipes the room with everyone, THIS FILM IS DEFINITELY for you. I did enjoy watching his eye pull in all the details of the surroundings before going to work.
I did. I think it is called violence porn, and I liked that part of it. But I needed just a touch more.
The trailer on the other hand, TOTALLY ROCKS and there are elements in the trailer that were not in the film. If they were, I might have notched up my score a bit more... maybe I was supposed to have watched the trailer going into the film. As a prequel or something. Then, maybe, sure. A much better score.
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