Director: Antoine Fuqua
Writers: Richard Wenk, Michael Sloan, Richard Lindheim
Cast: Denzel Washington, Marton Csokas, Chloë Grace Moretz, David Harbour, Haley Bennett, Bill Pullman, Melissa Leo, David Meunier, Johnny Skourtis, Alex Veadov, Vladimir Kulich, E. Roger Mitchell, James Wilcox, Mike O'Dea, Anastasia Sanidopoulos Mousis
Synopsis: A man believes he has put his mysterious past behind him and has dedicated himself to beginning a new, quiet life. But when he meets a young girl under the control of ultra-violent Russian gangsters, he can't stand idly by - he has to help her.
MPAA Rating: Rated R for strong bloody violence and language throughout, including some sexual references
6.6 / 10
- Great action scenes
- Denzel Washington was good
- The acting wasn't half bad
- Film moved at a nice pace
- Poorly written script
- Characters are a bit one dimensional; particularly the villains.
- Robert's back story is a bit too vague
- The entire story is too predictable because Robert is always one step ahead of everyone, so it leaves little to no room for any surprises.
What do you see when you look at me?
Does anyone still remember that classic Martin Scorsese film, "Taxi Driver?" You know the one that was nominated for "Best Picture", and served as a deep character study about some taxi driver that beats up a bunch of pimps. Well, "The Equalizer" is NOTHING like that. Sure, you still have a main protagonist, who beats up a bunch of guys to save some child prostitute that he meets. However, that's where all the similarities end.
For you see, he didn't beat up a bunch of pimps. He beat up the east coast mafia, and they're pissed. Of course, we all know if this happened in real life, then most people would probably end up dead for messing with organize crime to begin with. However, since this is a movie, we're not supposed to think about crap like that. Nope, we're just supposed to stuff our faces with popcorn, and enjoy the film for what it is.
And having said that, "The Equalizer" is nothing more than a generic popcorn action flick. It's not an intelligent action film that features a strong story arc like the "Bourne" franchise, nor can you expect any kind of deep social commentary on society (ala "X-Men: Days of Future Past"). No, this is more along the lines of what you'd expect from a 90's action movie, with big explosions and little emphasis on realism and story.
The plot revolves around a protagonist named Robert, who works at a hardware store. However, he takes it upon himself to become a vigilante for justice, when he sees an underage prostitute get physically abused one night. The girl was a friend of his that he would meet regularly at the his favorite coffee place. Throughout the time they've known each other, he's NEVER asked for her services, and they've talked quite a bit whenever he went there. She would always listen to him talk about the books he was reading, and I guess one could say that he was like a surrogate father figure for her.
However, a bunch of gangsters beat her up in front of him, and this doesn't make Robert all that happy. In fact, the poor girl is put in the hospital for a while, and Robert takes it upon himself to gather all the money he has to buy her freedom from these people. Sadly, they laugh at him, so he's forced to take drastic measures. And by that, I mean he kills every last one of them. Unfortunately for Robert, he soon learns that taking out those men came at a price because he didn't take out a bunch of pimps. Nah, he took out the east coast mafia, and now the rest of the mafia wants him dead.
Meanwhile, Robert is also doing other vigilante work, by beating up crooked cops and other would be criminals. Hell, he's practically the quintessential nice guy that happens to be the untouchable bad a** in this feature. Yet, he still has time to help his overweight friend train to become a security guard. Wow. I guess we should just put a red "S" on his chest, and start calling him Superman because that's exactly what he is.
Sure, the mafia tries the usual crap to get to him like going after people they think might be close to him and yada yada. However, Robert has the upper hand at every turn. He's always getting the last word, and he's always one step ahead of them. I know what most of you are thinking. That's impossible right? Well..not exactly.
When I first saw this movie, the beginning did seem a tad unrealistic. However, as we progressed through the story, we soon find out where Robert got his training from. Now, I won't spoil it for readers, but I will tell you that Robert used to work in a profession where killing was once part of his job. Although the film tends to skim over most of his back story, we are given enough to know that Robert isn't a man to be f**ked with.
As Liam Neesan would say, "He's a man with a very particular set of skills. Skills which he acquired over a long career." Sadly, this is also part of the problem. Since the film doesn't go into much detail about Robert's past, it becomes extremely hard to connect with him as a character.
Sure, there's brief references to his allegedly deceased wife, and how he might have done something to hurt her in the past. Hell, there's even a brief mention about a promise he made to her before she died. And since we're never given the full details of what happened with Robert's marriage, the motives behind his actions are a bit vague at best.
If anything, Robert just comes off as this quintessential bad a** with a heart of gold. He's never wrong about anything, and he's always one step ahead of everyone. He knows everything, and he's always getting the last freaking word. Therefore, what's really at stake here? The mafia guys are reduced to generic cartoon stereotypes, and they hardly ever seem like much of a threat to Robert.
Even during the scene when the mafia tries to go after his friends at the hardware store, Robert is conveniently able to set up booby traps around the place. Setting up elaborate traps, and taking them out one by one. Damn, this guy is making Batman look like a punk, by comparison.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying "The Equalizer" is a bad film by any means. Far from it actually. All I'm saying is the story leaves a lot to be desired. On the surface, the movie is a solid action story that'll entice audiences, but if you're yearning to see an action film with substance, then you won't find it here.
As I mentioned earlier, the film is rather vague about Robert's past to the point that you're not even sure what kind of character he is. Most of the characters are one dimensional, as they're reduced to generic stereotypes. And with Robert being such an untouchable bad a**, you never feel like there's anything truly at stake here; which makes the entire movie predictable as hell.
Sure, the action scenes were great, and I genuinely thought "The Equalizer" was a fun movie to watch. Denzel Washington was great in it, and Marton Csokas played an interesting antagonist; even if his part seemed a bit cartoonish at times.
Overall, "The Equalizer" was a great guilty pleasure film that offers some great action scenes, while delivering a lot of over the top moments. Granted, some people might be put off by the film's weak story, and poorly written characters. However, as long as you don't expect too much out of it, then you should be fine. Definitely worth checking out once comes out on Blue Ray/DVD, but I wouldn't pay to this in theaters.