The Equalizer’ is not Denzel’s most dynamic role

The Equalizer’ is not Denzel’s most dynamic role

By Jacob Pierce

Denzel Washington has an illustrious career highlighted by roles including “Training Day,” “Philadelphia” and “Malcolm X.”

Many of his films will be remembered for some time.

“The Equalizer” (Rated R; 131 mins) is not one of those movies.


“The Equalizer” is an action movie directed by Antoine Fuqua and stars Washington, Chloe Grace Mortez and Marton Csokas.

Robert McCall (Washington) is a man who believes his past is behind him. He has started a new, quieter beginning to his life. But when a young woman finds herself in the hospital thanks to Russian gangsters, McCall unleashed a side of him he hoped was gone.

“The Equalizer” is based on a TV show that ran from 1985 to 1989 on CBS. It has a cult following and is remembered for bringing gritty realism to television.

With all that in mind, it is a wonder in this golden age of television this was not an amazing TV reboot. Instead it was a generic Denzel Washington action movie.

Think about it for a second. You grab an actor like Idris Elba or Tim Roth, add a show-runner like Bryan Fuller or Vince Gilligan, put it on HBO and you have the recipe for the next “The Wire.”

Disregarding this fantasy, the film could have been something. When director Nicolas Winding Refn’s name was attached to the project, it seemed as though we were going to get a violent, visually creative action film, like his own work on “Drive.”

Yet, the moment he exited the project and Fuqua joined, it seemed as though it was destined for failure.


The movie is disappointing because Fuqua directed Washington in what many consider his greatest performance in “Training Day.” Yet, since then, Fuqua’s movies have gone downhill, which leads to “The Equalizer.”

This film is a very tame. While it has an R rating for a variety of harsh language, it seems the action doesn’t get brutal until the very end. This film could have done well with a “Drive” level of brutality to it.

Instead, we are given a character whose brutality, although infrequent, comes out of nowhere. He falls into a cliché action role. The man with a dark past who does not want to get involved? Is it even a cliché at this point or has it become something worse?

The film tries to play with the idea that McCall is not truly being who he is and hates any moment he is not systematically taking down a crime organization or something like that. Yet, we really only get one scene to this idea.

There is barely even an explanation of why he detests violence. A few mentions of a dead wife are dropped and a promise to her, but this is never explained to anywhere near coherency.

A more interesting way to go about this movie would be to make McCall a vigilante from the beginning of the film. Maybe he even enjoys the actions he does more than idea of helping people. We could have a hero we are reluctant to side with, something we rarely have in film these days.

The acting is one of the few shining aspects of this film. Washington gives it his all, like he always does, regardless of how typical his character is. He brings to this film the only interesting character moments, and most of that is through his mannerisms.

The film “Drive” has been brought up so much at this point, it is simpler to just recommend watching that instead of this film.

Jacob Pierce can be reached at [email protected]on Twitter @JacobPierce1_DE or at 536-3311 ext. 273