Writer: Richard Wenk
Cast: Denzel Washington, Chloe Grace Moretz, Marton Czokas, Johnny Skourtis, Melissa Leo, Bill Pullman
Running time: 131mins
The lowdown: If you liked Law Abiding Citizen, you should go ballistic for this graphic Equalizer. Denzel Washington steps into Edward Woodward’s formidable shoes in a big budget overhaul of the 80s TV favourite. He and Training Day director Antoine Fuqua deliver a rampage of Old Testament justice that sees Washington’s Robert McCall declaring war on the evil Russian mobsters who threaten the nice folk of his sleepy Boston suburb. They never stood a chance.
The full verdict: Vigilante lionizer? Then you’ll be an Equalizer rhapsodizer watching Denzel as a power tool utilizer, Russian mob chastiser, corrupt cop despiser, and sixth amendment circumsizer in a possible ongoing franchiser that will have some reaching for the moral hand sanitizer.
But those fearing another Man on Fire bludgeoning are in for a nice surprise(r). The Equalizer is delirious, dumb, but admittedly fun. Although you may need to suppress an urge to buy the Daily Mail post end credits.
Washington delivers another upstanding “right-kind” of psycho as Robert McCall, working in a B&Q style store, helping tubby security guard wannabe Ralph (Skourtis) slim down while dodging questions about his mysterious past.
After hours, Bob frequents his local diner, serving sage advice to roughed-up Russian immigrant hooker Irina (Moretz). But, when her pimp gets too punchy, Bob goes bonkers on him and his crew (making inventive use of corkscrews and doing that Sherlock Holmes thing of playing the fight through mentally prior to actually kicking off).
All this attracts the attention of fearsome enforcer and sometime war criminal Nikolai (Csokas). Cue an orgy of tit-for-tat butchery that pushes the boundaries of 15 cert approved mayhem, despite pre-cutting to avoid an 18.
Watching The Equalizer it’s like the 1980s never ended. Russian baddies. Reaganite “do it to them before they do it to us” politics. Loveable ethnic sidekick to counteract accusations of fascism. All that’s absent is an earworm synth theme, the filmmakers criminally ignoring Stewart Copeland’s finest hour.
And if this is going to be a retirement fund franchise for Denzel as the TV show was for Edward Woodward and Taken is for Liam Neeson, The Sequelizer will have to soften up a touch.
Sure, the baddies here are bad, but none of them string up people with barbed wire, gas a confession out of a corrupt cop, or grossly ignore safety instructions when it comes to handling power drills and nail guns in an anything goes climax (presumably the sole reason McCall works in a hardware store).
Plot holes outnumber bullet holes- why do police not respond to gunfire or explosions, why is the outside world seemingly not bothered by this mini-war – but as a (overlong) guilty pleasure movie The Equalizer hits home like a hot doorknob on an open wound. You’ll know what we mean.