Good, Bad & Ugly Review: The Equalizer

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 60% (Critics) / 83% (Audience)
Directed By: Antoine Fuqua
Written By: Richard Wenk
Starring: Denzel Washington, Marton Csokas, Chloë Grace Moretz and Melissa Leo
Studio: Sony Pictures
Synopsis: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. – (Source)

The Good:
Denzel Washington films always take me a good 15 to 20 minutes to stop seeing “Denzel the Movie Star” and actually see the character he is playing and it was no different for THE EQUALIZER. But once that clicked in I was totally engrossed by the methods Washington employed in his version of Robert McCall. He created a duality in the character that was really interesting. In one scene he is a jovial, salt of the Earth type of a guy who connects with people in meaningful ways and in the next scene he becomes an unblinking death dealing bad ass who seems to have a hint of sociopathic tendencies in him that makes him pretty scary. Plus who doesn’t love an action hero who takes the bus to his big final confrontation with the Russian mob?
Re-teaming with Washington for the first time since TRAINING DAY, director Antoine Fuqua delivers a very serviceable and exciting action movie with cool fight scenes and intriguing character moments. The way Fuqua was able to make the action scenes come off in an almost mellow way was very different from pretty much any action movie I have seen.
I also like that some things were hinted at but left open-ended enough (McCall’s government agent past, Melissa Leo and Bill Pullman’s characters) that the inevitable sequels can expound on them without seeming like retreading already traveled ground.

The Bad:
I wanted to like Martin Csokas’ Russian bad guy Teddy but, as much as he was set up to be a memorable bad guy early on, the movie seemed to lose interest in fleshing him out more so he could become a standout villain.
Also Chloë Grace Moretz was pretty wasted in this movie.

The Ugly:
2 hours and 11 minutes just seemed like a very overlong running time. A good 30 minutes shaved off of this film would have made things a lot tighter.

Final Verdict: Denzel Washington capably overcomes his own star power and memories of the fondly remembered TV series THE EQUALIZER is based on to create a rollicking violent action movie that still finds time to show enough interesting character moments to keep things from becoming rote. This film, thanks to its star and director, achieves two goals: as being an enjoyable stand-alone movie as well as setting up what is likely to be a pretty successful franchise.

Grade: B

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