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The Equalizer

October 5, 2014

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Robert McCall: I am offering you a chance to do the right thing. Take it.

Denzel Washington’s latest vehicle had great potential.  It mixed all the right ingredients; a solid cast, a big budget, and the teaming up of Washington and director Antoine Fuqua who worked together on Training Day.  So what went wrong?  Well, for starters, there are serious pacing issues going on in this almost two and a half hour train wreck.  Secondly, the action scenes are choppily edited.  Lastly, the writing is substandard and the villain is feeble.  The Equalizer isn’t as exciting, intricate or captivating as the filmmakers think. 

Denzel Washington stars as Robert McCall, a retired black ops government operative living in Boston.  McCall works at a Home Mart hardware store and lives a humdrum life.  He left his dangerous life after promising his deceased wife that he wouldn’t return to old habits. Meanwhile, he befriends a young prostitute (Chloë Grace Moretz), whom he witnesses being abused by her pimp.  After she is hospitalized, he makes a vow to get vengeance on the Russian mob.  As the villainous Teddy roams the streets of Boston with sleazy cops and dangerous thugs, McCall embarks on a solo journey to end the corruption once and for all.

I used to be a colossal Denzel Washington fan.  From The Manchurian Candidate to American Gangster to Unstoppable, the man has a fantastic track record.  Just shy of 60, I have to give him credit; he’s still a crucial star and a major box office draw.  However in the past few years I’ve noticed a decline in his ability to entertain.  Other than Flight, he’s taken a few lackluster roles in flicks such as Safe House, 2 Guns, and The Book of Eli.  Fortunately, The Equalizer features an inspired performance by Washington, even if it’s masked by an uninspired script.

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The Equalizer is a cash cow that failed to entertain me on even the most minuscule level.  The film has a horrible lack of continuity that is a giant misfire.  None of the supporting roles are given enough characterization (particularly the “main” villain).  Chloë Moretz has roughly 20 minutes of screen time despite appearing as a more prominent role in promotional material.  There’s a good film buried somewhere within the poor writing and editing of this film.  It’s unfortunate that the final product turned out to be nothing but a cheap thriller of sorts.

I didn’t hate this movie because it’s nonsense.  I hated it because it’s boring and monotonous.  Director Antoine Fuqua clumsily handles the films abysmal action sequences which are edited without a sense of direction.  It’s so scattershot at times, I can barely make out who’s attacking who.  They are poor, unenergetic wastes of time.  The Equalizer is a morose, dreary, excruciatingly lengthy failure of a movie masquerading as end-of-summer escapism.

The Equalizer – ½ out of 5

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