Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead
Edward Woodward as Robert McCall in that show The Equalizer was a pretty cool show back in the '80's.  A kindly, elderly gentleman with some kind of shadowy spy background who helped people out of seemingly impossible situations with these shadowy skills of his.  Pretty cool show.  It's been a while, but I don't recall McCall jabbing the equivalent of a spear through someone's skull, temple first, or using a corkscrew on some poor schlubs chin, just one of the many ways McCall was dealing death in this modern remake of 'The Equalizer'.  But then just because I don't remember it, doesn't mean it didn't happen.  Regardless of all of that, Denzel Washington as a tortured badass, dealing death to some truly awful people, under the steady hand of director Antoine Fuqua?  Pretty much a can't miss proposition, if one were to ask me.

When we catch up with Mr. McCall (Washington) in the here and now, he is a kindly worker at one of those big box hardware stores.  He helps people here and there before retreating to home where he can't sleep, due to what we can imagine are the thoughts of the people he's lost, and the awful, awful things he's done over the years, though I'm sure it's all been in service to the greater good.

Since he can't sleep, this man who clearly has some obsessive, compulsiveness issues, goes down to the local diner to enjoy a book, and here is where he meets the young Russian prostitute Helena (Chloe Grace Moretz).  McCall takes a liking to the girl, noticed she's getting abused a bit on her job, and after the child suffers through a rather severe beat down, McCall makes the effort to attempt to free her from bondage. 

These Russian mobsters reject McCall's offer, and they do it in a way that wasn't very respectful.  In retrospect, that was just an awful decision on the part of these gentlemen.  Awful.  Alas, if one murders some Russian mobsters, invariably some meaner Russian mobsters will be enroute to find out what happened.  Thus this brings the psychopath Nikolai (Martin  Csokas) to the scene and he's
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a really bad dude.  Nikolai has his own unique set of skills and eventually he figures out who has done this thing to his people, and Nikolai is no fool.  I mean he knows almost completely what this cat is capable of and that taking him out will be a feat as difficult as anything he ever taken on, and he still underestimated him.  In Greek Mythology, Thanatos is the God of Death.  In this mythology this god of death goes by the name Robert McCall.

So I just got an idea for a movie.  Denzel Washington and Liam Neeson, obviously retired badasses of some shadowy agency… obviously…, and these two have children who marry and these kids have a child.  Then have this seven year old kid get kidnapped by crazed North Korean terrorists, then we send BOTH Denzel and Liam, their grandfathers, to get this taken kid back.  Tell me that doesn't sound like all kinds of awesome.  I'm already in line to buy a ticket for this movie that doesn't exist yet. 

So what do you get with this version of 'The Equalizer'?  You get some high quality, controlled nonsense, the kind of which we have come to expect from an experienced action director such as Antoine Fuqua, then you add in a legitimate movie star who instantly adds an air of legitimacy to this controlled nonsense in Denzel Washington.  This is what you get. 

Critically speaking, one might say 'Yawn… another aging badass brutal revenge movie.  Gee, haven't we seen enough of these?'  Or one might say 'Yawn… look, Denzel slow-mo walking away from yet another fiery explosion.  What is this?  Man on Fire 2?…' Or one might be tired of the completely expendable, faceless Eastern European goons that these guys have been tirelessly and mercilessly mowing down for the better part of the last decade… but not us over here.

I'm sure if the star and the director really wanted to, they could've buckled down and attempted to give us something new, by why reinvent the wheel?  We have bad people doing really bad things who are in desperate need of some killin', and a fractured badass more than willing to give them what they need, all done with style and gloss.  And violence.  Good Lord was this a violent movie.  When our hero power drills somebody in the back of the skull, or hangs another cat using barbed wire, then unemotionally watches him die, this is some violent stuff.  

You almost felt sorry for these drug running, gun running, rapist pedophiles.  Note to self:  Home Depot is an absolute terrible place to request a showdown with a tortured CIA badass.  I mean if this guy can turn a paper clip into an instrument of death, imagine what he can do at Home Depot?

Of course the movie is complete and utter nonsense.  We love us some Antoine Fuqua as a director here at the FCU, because he makes the kinds of movies we like to watch, but the next time he makes a movie that takes place on a version of the Planet Earth that we are familiar with, it will be the first time.  The film also has some other impressive actors in it, such as Melissa Leo and Bill Pullman, along with Chloe Grace Moretz, but they served little to no purpose.  Even Chloe Grace and her beat up prostitute was almost a McGuffin just to get us to McCall brutally slaying faceless Eastern European goons.

But still, we enjoyed our time spend with 'The Equalizer'.  Will Mr. Washington cave and finally appear in a sequel to a movie?  Even though is could've been called 'Man on Fire 2' and I think most everybody would've accepted that. 
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