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REEL GUYS: THE EQUALIZER. “more elegant than Liam Neeson’s action movies.”

Denzel WashingtonBy Richard Crouse & Mark Breslin – Metro Reel Guys

SYNOPSIS: Washington plays a home improvement store worker by day, righter of wrongs by night. He’s a former black ops commando trying to leave his violent ways in the past but just when he thought that part of his life was over, the Russian mob leans on him because he tried to protect a young woman (Chloë Grace Moretz) from her violent pimp. When he singlehandedly wipes out the east coast wing of the Russian mob Teddy (Marton Csokas), an enforcer from Moscow arrives to put an end to McCall’s one man search for justice.


Richard: 3 ½ Stars

Mark: 3 Stars

Richard: Mark, The Equalizer is more elegant than Liam Neeson’s recent action movies but less viscerally satisfying. All the elements of Neeson’s Euro-trash thrillers are in place—tattooed bad guys and the “seasoned” hero with a “special set of skills”—but the pace is much slower. The point of the story is that McCall equalizes situations, using his talents to help the down trodden but it takes about thirty minutes before any settling of scores happens. We meet McCall, learn about his orderly life but we don’t learn anything about his past. He’s Denzel and ergo, a badass, but the first thirty minutes of this movie could have snapped things up a bit by illuminating his past.

Mark: Richard, withholding information must be what passes for suspense in this thriller. But I can accept a slow burn off the top if the rest of the movie ignites. But the plot and tone of the movie is standard stuff, as you say. What lifts the rote material into the stratosphere is Denzel who is such a good actor we forget we’re watching an expensive Steven Seagal flick.

RC: It is a slow burn that does build some tension, and by the time McCall unleashes hell on the Russia mobsters it comes as a bit of a catharsis. Now the movie is rolling! Except that it isn’t. It takes ages for McCall to open another can of whoop ass. Instead director Antoine Fuqua has elected to gradually build up to a wild showdown in a massive hardware store. Who knew those places were so dangerous? The climax is tense and inventive, apparently there is no home improvement device that cannot be turned into a WMD, but it is a more standard blockbuster-movie ending than you might expect from a movie so stingy with the action in the first hour.

MB: Homeowners…killing homeowners, as the jingle sorta goes. I liked the set piece at the end; it was very well directed, and I have no quibble about the technical virtuosity of the movie. Denzel’s tactiturn hero is mysterious and engaging. But when I thought about it, all of the hero’s efforts to eliminate the Russian mob in Boston would only result in the ascendancy of the Irish mob. And what’s Bill Pullman doing in the movie with three lines? Time to fire his agent?

RC: Pullman did have the nicer house though, so I guess that counts for something. Overall it’s a good movie and Denzel is, as always, charismatic and interesting, but as he says, paraphrasing Hemingway, if “the old man gotta be the old man,” then The Equalizer gotta be more of an action movie to be completely satisfying.

MB: I might say the violence was often gratuitous, but there’s not much of a movie without it.

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