The Equalizer proves Denzel has still got it
Sometimes the story you know is just good enough to work. The Equalizer is not trying to reinvent the wheel. Someone is in trouble so a man with a special set of skills takes out the bad guys. He’s silent, he lurks in the shadows and fights for what’s right. Seems familiar? Doesn’t matter it still works.
The Equalizer stars Denzel Washington as Bob McCall. On the surface he’s an older guy working in a generic big box home improvement store. His younger coworkers look up to him and wonder what he did before he worked there. He’s friendly, helpful, mentors the others younger workers but he doesn’t sleep and had OCD. He frequents a small diner nearby where he gets the same thing all the time, a cup of hot water (brings his own tea) goes through his routine of removing the teabg, placing his box, napkin and spoon. He always sits in the exact same way and reads a book. Below the surface he’s retired special forces and he’d hoped to leave that part of his life in the past.
The Diner is frequented at that time of night by other regulars, including a young hooker named Teri (Chloë Grace Moretz) who works for the Russian mafia. She’s friendly to Bob, she finds it refreshing he’s never attempted to buy her services. After some brief conversations he gets slightly more involved when he notices she’s been roughed up. When her boss comes and takes her to teach her a lesson after she beat up a client her hit her and it lands her in the hospital he decides he can’t just stand there and do nothing.
What starts as a plan to use his money to buy her freedom from her pimp becomes something very different when they refuse and only offer to take it as a down payment. Her age makes her very valuable to them and they take pleasure in insulting him.
He takes that opportunity to teach them a lesson in his skill set.
The rub is that they are far more connected than he assumed and when a fixer (Marton Csokas) arrives he learns that the head of the entire operation Pushkin (Vladimir Kulich) is well connected and probably untouchable. The only connection we get into his background is when he’s going up the chain. He also finds many member of Boston PD (David Harbour) are on the take for various different reasons and facets and this starts to interfere with the only other people he connects with, his coworkers. The battle with the Russian pumps only awakens his desire to bring justice to those who do wrong.
The Equalizer is clearly a standard procedural action thriller. There’s no deep story, everything you can see a mile away and his age makes you think this could easily be a Liam Neeson movie. What’s different at the mannerisms of Bob McCall being a guy with OCD and that finess Denzel brings to his roles at all times. Those are why you still watch, why you come to see predictable films in spite of the plot you know and the actors you love. It works and that’s all that matters. Bill Plummer and Melissa Leo also co-star.
My Rating: Matinee
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Studio: Sony Pictures/ Village Roadshow
Release Date: September 26, 2014
Run time: 2 hours 11 minutes
MPAA Rating: R