A weekly feature from from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at Denzel Washington in “The Equalizer 2,” the delightful “Eighth Grade” and the biopic “Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot.”
Richard joins CP24 anchor Nathan Downer to have a look at the weekend’s new movies including Denzel Washington in “The Equalizer 2,” the delightful “Eighth Grade” and the biopic “Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot.”
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Erin Paul to have a look at the weekend’s big releases, Denzel Washington in “The Equalizer 2,” the delightful “Eighth Grade” and the biopic “Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot.”
Like a perfectly cooked egg, or popping the individual pockets of air on bubble wrap or the “pawooof” sound a properly opened bottle of champagne makes, watching Denzel Washington open up a can of whoop ass on bad people is extraordinarily satisfying. His latest film, “The Equalizer 2,” the first sequel in his long and stories career, offers up a cornucopia of fisticuffian delights that should keeps fans of tough guy Denzel happy.
Denzel returns as former secret agent and righter-of-wrongs Robert McCall. Although he’s looking to scale back his ongoing quest to protect and serve the exploited and oppressed, when his former boss and close friend Susan Plummer (Melissa Leo) is murdered, he goes looking for revenge. “You killed my friend,” he says to the baddies, “so I’m going to kill each and every one of you. My only disappointment is that I only get to do it once.” Cue the carnage, Denzel-style.
There’s more, like a subplot with a young artist McCall tries to steer away from gang life and some double crosses, but you don’t go to an “Equalizer” movie for the social messaging or the plot. You go to see Denzel reign holy hell down on people that deserve a punch or two. That’s why the first, largely plot free, half of the movie is more satisfying than the second. We see McCall in random situations doing what he does best, not getting bogged down by the vagaries of narrative style or thematic statements. The fight scenes are don’t vary much, he scopes out the room, mutters a killer one-liner and devastates those who get in his way. It’s in the second half, after Susan’s murder that it sags as the movie strays into procedural territory. McCall’s investigative work leads to another improbable “Equalizer” style climax, although this one, set in a beach town during a hurricane, isn’t quite as ridiculous as the Home Hardware shootout—who knew those places were so dangerous?—in the first film, but it still requires some suspension of disbelief. (Start by asking yourself, when did he have time to hang up all those pictures of Susan in a wild windstorm?)
Director Antoine Fuqua has snapped up the pace from the first film, showcased the action, and added in two great motivators, betrayal and grief. Washington brings gravitas and ferocity to a character stuck somewhere between atoning for his violent life by helping those around him and knocking the snot out of people who get on his bad side. This sequel muddies the character by presenting him as a one-man posse, meting out his own brand of over-the-top justice. You can root for him, just don’t get on his bad side.
Not as trashy as “Death Wish” or as action-packed as “John Wick,” two other exemplars of the man on a crusade genre, “The Equalizer 2” is a solidly entertaining popcorn flick with pretensions of bringing Shakespearean level of pathos to the tale of vengeance. Instead, it’s “Taken” with the special set of skills and without the annoying daughter character.
In 2001 Denzel Washington won his first Best Actor Academy Award. The movie was Training Day and Washington’s performance as the corrupt Los Angeles Police Department narcotics officer Alonzo Harris established the actor’s propensity for playing ambiguous antiheroes.
Is there another A-list leading man who explores the dark side of his characters as often as Washington? Will Smith and Tom Cruise occasionally let the heroic side of their on-screen personas take a back seat, but Washington revels in mucking around in the mud. From Training Day to American Gangster, Safe House to Flight, he has crafted complex characters you wouldn’t want to sit next to on the bus.
This weekend he’s back as Robert McCall, home improvement store manager by day, equalizer of odds by night. Based on the cult 1980s television show The Equalizer starring Edward Woodward, the film begins with the former black ops commando trying to leave his violent ways in the past. He meets his greatest adversary just when he thought that part of his life was over. Namely, the Russian mob leans on him after he tries to protect a young woman (Chloë Grace Moretz) from her pimp.
No other superstar seems as comfortable with moral haziness as Washington. In American Gangster, for instance, he was Frank Lucas, the one-time driver for a Harlem mob boss who rose to the top of the drug world by flooding the streets of Manhattan with cheap, high-grade heroin smuggled into the United States in the coffins of dead soldiers returning from Vietnam. He’s a dichotomy — bloodthirsty and ruthless, but he also attends church every Sunday with his mother.
In Flight, he played troubled pilot Whip Whitaker, an anti-hero who is functional in day-to-day life despite his predilection for wine, women and cocaine. He’s charming one minute, enraged the next and passed out on the floor the minute after that. Washington manages to subtly capture the ego and hubris that allows Whitaker to present a sober face to the public while bringing us into the messy world of addiction.
The actor has played his share of assorted good guys over the years — Ricochet’s cop-turned-attorney and Don Pedro of Aragon in Much Ado About Nothing — but it is his willingness to mine the heroism of the nasty men he plays that makes him one of the most interesting A-listers.