THE EQUALIZER [2014]: in cinemas now [short review]

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Directed by:
Written by:
Starring: , , ,

USA

IN CINEMAS NOW

RUNNING TIME: 131 min

REVIEWED BY: Dr Lenera, Official HCF Critic

 

the-equalizer-one-sheet

Robert McCall is an ex-CIA operative who uses his special skills to help ordinary people who have no other recourse. Working in a DIY store and living his evenings reading books at a local diner, he forms a friendship with child prostitute Teri who’s under the control of Russian gangsters. When she’s beaten to a pulp, he decides to exact vengeance, but his brutal act of revenge stirs up a hornet’s nest and soon, bigger sharks are circling….

Not really bearing much relation to the TV series of the same name, The Equalizer sees Denzel Washington back in Man On Fire mode as an avenging angel. As an action movie it takes its time and seems overly stretched out, with its middle section featuring quite a few redundant scenes, but some sequences, especially the lengthy climax in the shop Robert McCall works at, benefit from lasting a long time and allowing suspense to build and build. Director Antoine Fuqua, reuniting with Washington after Training Day, generally takes things at a leisurely pace, though that doesn’t mean to say there’s a lack of violence, with Robert not liking to use guns but happy to waste the bad guys with whatever other means appear to be at his disposal, from a barbed wire garroting to a cork screw through the bottom of a mouth. These two particular moments have been trimmed by the BBFC to get a ’15’ rating in a similar situation to A Walk Among The Tombstones, though you can’t really notice the cuts. Fuqua stages such scenes in the irritating ‘shakycam/one-second-edit’ fashion all too prevalent these days, though for most of the time his film looks very good with some especially evocative night-time photography from Mauro Fiore. This director also uses close-ups very well and is very good at employing shots to make a point, right from an early one where we begin inside Robert’s apartment, looking out a window toward Boston, then pull back inside to emphasise his isolation from the world.

The script proceeds with no real surprises, though it’s good at revealing choice bits and pieces about its title character without going into detail, aided by Washington who can play this sort of role in his sleep. Indeed he possibly is a bit too calm and collected throughout, casually walking away from a big explosion he’s caused looking like he hasn’t a care in the world, though you get the sense he doesn’t actually enjoy killing, and there are some nice quirks about the character, from him constantly drinking tea to having what seems like OCD. Chloe Grace Moretz is rather startling as Teri, and the scenes where Robert befriends her are amongst the film’s best, though she almost disappears from the film after about a third of the way through. The Equalizer doesn’t quite fulfill the promise it sets up, but it’s still a solid thriller that does the job, and I certainly wouldn’t object to some sequels – for a start, I want to find out more about this guy. It seems like a first sequel is already being planned, the film’s commercial success proving that ‘R’ rated films in this genre can still sometimes do well at the box office, something which can only be a good thing.

Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

About Dr Lenera 3155 Articles
I'm a huge film fan and will watch pretty much any type of film, from Martial Arts to Westerns, from Romances [though I don't really like Romcoms!]] to Historical Epics. Though I most certainly 'have a life', I tend to go to the cinema twice a week! However,ever since I was a kid, sneaking downstairs when my parents had gone to bed to watch old Universal and Hammer horror movies, I've always been especially fascinated by horror, and though I enjoy all types of horror films, those Golden Oldies with people like Boris Karloff and Christopher Lee probably remain my favourites. That's not to say I don't enjoy a bit of blood and gore every now and again though, and am also a huge fan of Italian horror, I just love the style.

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