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The Equalizer – Review


Release Date: 26th September 2014
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Writer: Richard Wenk - Michael Sloan [TV Series] - Richard Wenk [Screenplay]
Cast: Denzel Washington - Marton Csokas - Chloë Grace Moretz - David Harbour



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Posted October 17, 2014 by

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The Equalizer Review:

Like pretty much everybody, the Fuqua-Washington duo is synonymous with success, the best of which dates from 2001 with the unforgettable “Training Day”. So the reunion of these two made me both anxious and excited : excited because, man, “Training Day” is a real ‘film noir’, a true performance in acting and in story-telling ; but anxious because History has proven that a recipe made with the same ingredients, with the same cook, but made without the same intent, can hardly provide the same dish.

For the untilled, “The Equalizer” is originally a vintage CBS series from 1985 to 1989 : the pitch is quite simple : “Whe the scales of justice become unbalanced, only one man can set them straight : the Equalizer”, originally performed by the late Edward Woodward. The character, Robert McCall, is a retired secret service agent, with ties with the CIA. Because he is filled with regrets about his bad actions, he becomes a Good Samaritan to everybody around him, especially those neglected by the law, or a truer form of justice.

And here we have it, Sony-Columbia asks Antoine Fuqua (“The King Arthur”, “Shooter”, “Brooklyn’s Finest”) to be the proud director of this transcript to a movie that was this series. But nothing has changed, not a single piece of it… Robert McCall is performed by Denzel Washington (2004’s “The Mandchurian Candidate”, “Man on fire”, “Inside Man”, “the Book of Eli”, “Flight”), who is Mister Nice Guy working at Home Mart in the Boston’s suburbs : he’s training his coworker so he could lose weight and pass the test to become the new security agent of the mart, he helps a lady coworker to find her lost wedding ring, you name it… And since he is working forty straight hours a week, at night, he got nothing best to do than go read his books in his usual booth at the local diner (conveniently opened 24/7). Every now and then, comes Teri (Chloe Grace Moretz from “Kick-Ass”, “Hugo”, “Let Me In”, “If I Stay”), the cute teen street hooker whose secret dream in life is to become a singer. I won’t stress any further the cliché out of it, but this dream of hers seems to have touch our hero with a shining armor. She even admits that Teri is her street name : back in Russia, her name was Alina. One night, she shows up with bruises on her face, he understands she’s abused somehow, until he witnessed her pimp smacking her off, resulting in her getting to the hospital. Like any regular Mister Nice Guy would do, he looks up the whereabouts of the pimps and his team, goes to the restaurant from where they’re leading their operations, and kills every one of them in less than twenty seconds.

But of course, killing five pimps doesn’t get her out of the hospital with a singing carrer ahead of her. It may instead irritate the pimps’ boss, a Vori Zakone (the Russian Mob) billionaire thug, who is spreading his activities in the east cost of the United States. Like any regular mob boss would do, he asks his sociopathic hangman (Marton Csokas, “The Lord of the Ring”, “The Bourne Supremacy”, “Sin City : A Dame to Kill For”) to go to Boston, investigate the mysterious death of the associates, and punish whoever is responsible for making him lose millions of dollars. His skills in torturing as well as following obvious clues makes him understand that McCall is involved in whatever happened at the restaurant. After a few confrontations, McCall reaches out to his former CIA contact : the message is clear enough : “You are dealing with Russian mob, be careful… but you have my green light to go kill them all”. Subtle.

And here goes our knight in his shining armor giving his last warning to Teddy/Nicolaï (Teddy is his streetname, Nicolaï his real name, if anyone has a clue in why Teddy is supposed to be a proper streetname ?), but since Teddy is the Sociopathic figure, he doesn’t give a peep about how strong and armored McCall is, he gathers his best men, and sets a trap by taking hostage the fellow coworkers in the Home Mart. I won’t bother you in explaining how it ends…

I was right to get anxious. The film is a disappointment because it is too easy, to predictable, almost too “nice”. I was used to see a true writing in some of Fuqua’s productions, but this one must have taken him less than one week to go through, when you look at the work that was done with “Training Day” or “Brooklyn’s Finest”. Denzel Washington, well, is Denzel Washington, the performance is great but it remains the Denzel classic hard-boiled guy, yet nice with people, kind of guy. My favorite performance is clearly the one given by Marton Csokas, what is to be put on the fact that I like crazy and dangerous characters. Chloe Grace Moretz is clearly talented, but not in acting a street hooker dreaming of a better life, clearly not.

So, why should you even watch this movie ? Well, like I said, Marton Csokas is great, Denzel Washington is not too much of a frustration. He’s even kind of fun in his way of performing executions : “guns are for sissies” should be McCall middle name : scotch glasses, hammer, barbwire, cork-screw, electric screwdriver, microwave oven, you name it… Apart from this entertainment and a good cast, I have no idea why I should recommend this movie. There’s not even one moment in the film that was interesting enough, musically speaking. The final product is not boring, far from it, but it’s filled with clichés, easiness and predictable situations. And you haven’t heard the worst yet.

They are planning on producing The Equalizer part two. Yes, they are.


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Screen Shot 2014-10-13 at 15.21.38

Theo Tessa
Freelance Contributor


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