Movie Review: The Equalizer

Based on the 1985 television series of the same name, The Equalizer dives into the mysterious life of Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) as he struggles to maintain a normal life after retiring from a violent past as a black ops operative. When a girl (ChloĆ« Grace Moretz) is suddenly beaten and hospitalized, McCall is forced to take up his old habits once more to bring the girl's attackers to justice. But with more than one player in the game, and an array of deadly tricks up his enemy's sleeves, McCall must call upon his darkest inner demons to once again equalize the odds. 

Denzel is back, and he's ready to kick ass. Returning from his violent summer vacation back in 2013 in 2 Guns, with buddy-cop Mark Wahlberg, Denzel revisits the murder business in his newest ass-kicking role as retired black ops agent Robert McCall. This time around, Denzel continues down his road of always pleasing the audience, with his stern badassery and deadly delivery of some great methodical lines. With a summer of lackluster films, the Fall begins with a bang, as Washington mows down Russian mobsters and does what's right, even if it is a little wrong. In this methodical, mind-bending action-thriller, Washington delivers with ease, as he strives towards redemption and honor to save a girl's life, and also save his own. The Equalizer tells a dark tale of a struggling man, but also highlights the good that can be found, even in the baddest of people. 

From inspiring football coaches and plane-crashing pilots to unstoppable train operators and deadly safe house captives, you could say Denzel Washington has had his share of great film roles. From legendary films that I haven't seen (Training Day, American Gangster) to the awesome films of my generation (Remember the Titans, Unstoppable, Safe House), Washington has always been one of my favorite actors, simply because of his stern, serious nature that mixes ever-so-well with his subtle bouts of humor. Whether it be a serious role or a comedic one, Washington never ceases to amaze as he brings his best to every role he performs. This time, Denzel channels his inner bad-ass once again to play Robert McCall, a man who struggles to maintain two lives: the normal retiree, and the cold-hearted killer of his past. Beginning the film as a lone wolf living an ordinary life in Boston, working at a hardware store, it doesn't take long for McCall to unleash his expert combat skills on some corrupt Russian mobsters. Delivering another phenomenal performance, Washington revives his talents from American Gangster and Safe House to bring a cold, frightening fierceness to his deadly new role. Applying this personalized fierceness to nearly every role he does, Washington succeeds again in his mission to both blow the audience away and make them beg for more.

As the Fall season rolls around, and the explosive summer of hits and misses blows over, it's always a good sign when the first Fall film you see grabs you and pulls you in, leaving you breathless. That's exactly what The Equalizer did. Bringing back the great Denzel Washington for another action flick, and promising a violent tale of redemption and revenge, Equalizer managed to bring me to the theater seat, without a second thought. While competing for my interest (and money) with Liam Neeson's newest thriller A Walk Among the Tombstones, Washington's dark, edgy Robert McCall managed to easily steal the spot, promising another great Washington film with a violent yet entertaining premise. While I may still want to see Neeson's Tombstones, Equalizer was good enough to keep me going. Delivered an intense tale, a broodingly bad-ass role from Denzel, and one frightening villain to heighten the stakes, Equalizer shines a new light on the thrillers of today, and makes for one great movie experience.  

As I mentioned a great many times above, Denzel Washington is basically a god in every film he does, bringing his own edgy nature (and serious humor) to every one of his roles. As for the rest of the cast, there are a few honorable mentions that deserve to be talked about. Starting with the damsel-in-distress, if that's what you could call her, ChloĆ« Grace Moretz plays teenage prostitute Teri, who from the start of the film, is not in the safest place of her life. After befriending McCall in their local diner, the two begin to share a bond with each other, leading McCall to care for the troubled young girl. After Teri gets into some trouble with her employers, and later is hospitalized, McCall is left with only one option: revenge. While her role may not be as important to the overall story as it may seem, Moretz performs adequately as a trouble teen in need of a friend. Having experience as both an ass-kicking teen in Kick-Ass 1 & 2, and a love-struck teen in If I Stay, Moretz manages to deliver a decent performance, even if it is for only 15 minutes of the film. 

Another great performance was from the film's central antagonist. Played by Marton Csokas, the Russian mob's top enforcer targets McCall after he intrudes in the mob's business, killing Teri's employers. Notable for his roles in the Lord of the Rings films, The Bourne Supremacy, as well as small roles in 2014's Noah and The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Csokas has become one of the most deadliest hidden stars. Returning to the villain seat in Equalizer, Csokas delivers a menacing performance as a ruthless Russian mobster with no fear. Targeting McCall after he nearly dismantles his business, Csokas' character Teddy sets out to hunt down anyone who may know of McCall, from an innocent prostitute friend of Teri's to McCall's own fellow employees. Taking lives without mercy, Teddy soon becomes a formidable equal to McCall, leading the two to battle their wits against each other to survive. In the end, Csokas delivers an intense performance as the film's villain, acting as ruthless and cold-hearted as McCall. Having seen this film, Marton Csokas might be one of my favorite villain actors in film, bringing his own brooding and threatening persona to win over the audience. 

The action in the film is something quite unique, only seen in a number of top-notch films today. Setting off the action with his first violent act of revenge against Teri's employers, McCall uses his strategic mind of combat and skill to take down nearly five armed men in under half a minute. This pivotal scene where we first see McCall in action, is only the beginning of the fun. Reminding me a lot of Robert Downey Jr.'s Sherlock Holmes, McCall's strategic observation before combat manages to create an amazing visual stimulus for the audience, focusing on McCall's delicate eye movements, as well as his expert prediction of how the fight will proceed. Reminding me again of Downey Jr.'s Holmes, McCall uses every item at his disposal to outsmart and overtake his oppressors, from a broken piece of glass to cork remover, ultimately leading to some rather messy outcomes. In the end, the film's action is visually entertaining and not too over-the-top when it comes to violence (well, sort of), creating a fun, explosive, and thrilling film to enjoy with some popcorn. 

Overall, this film was a great film to start off the Fall season, with its entertaining premise, its bad-ass anti-hero protagonist, and its visually pleasing action sequences. Whether you love Denzel Washington, love action films, or just want a fun film to enjoy on a Saturday night, The Equalizer is the one to check out. And if you're a fan of slow-mo rain falling or explosions..exploding, definitely check this one out more than once. 

I gave this film an 8 out of 10, because it was a great thriller with a small yet menacing cast, it had a great final scene that will make you stare in awe, and it has Denzel freakin' Washington with a nail gun playing Home Alone in a pitch-black hardware store...Does that sound bad-ass or what? 

"What do you see when you look at me?"...I see one hell of a thrill-ride!                           

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