Regular Dude Movie Review: The Equalizer

Above: Denzel Washington in 'The Equalizer'

There have been a plethora of “former cop/operative can’t walk away” making the rounds recently. In the last two months alone, Pierce Brosnan (The November Man) and Liam Neeson (A Walk Among the Tombstones) put forth their entries and this week it’s Denzel Washington’s turn.

Reconnecting with Training Day director Antoine Fuqua, Washington plays Robert McCall, a former special ops something or other who “died” in the line of duty and now spends 40 hours a week working at a big box home improvement store. He lives alone – single plate, single glass, single cup – and doesn’t sleep much, opting instead to work his way through a “100 Books to Read Before You Die” list at an all-night diner.

He strikes up a comraderie with a fellow regular, a teenage Russian escort played by Chloe Grace Moretz, and goes to see her handlers when she lands in the ICU. That’s when The Equalizer falls into the crowded “out to get the bad guys” waters, complete with slow motion fight sequences, a walk away as everything explodes in the background scene and some “oh that’s why this movie is Rated R” violence.

What differentiates The Equalizer from all the rest of the movies swimming in these same waters is Washington. Even though this flick is a fairly paint-by-numbers action offering, Washington ups the ante because he has such a presence on screen. His body language and way of looking at people conveys more than many actors can in extended speeches and he has the charm and charisma to make you buy into the whole gone straight and genuinely cares about his coworkers vibe he gives off when he’s not righting wrongs.

Marton Csokas plays Washington’s counterweight and deserves some credit too – he’s menacing without being loud and pompous; a bad guy without being “The Big Bad” that appears far too often in movies like this.

Fuqua clearly had fun with this one, breaking out many of the standard action movie elements and turning the “take out the bad guys one-by-one” sequence on its ear by placing it inside a Home Depot-type store, but despite having one Top of the A-List actor as his lead and a solid Hollywood push behind it, The Equalizer is nothing more than another addition to a genre that has been featured too heavily these last few years.

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