The Equalizer


This Catch Up is written by Telaina Eriksen
Year of Release: 2014
Rating: R
Currently Streaming on Netflix? No—available OnDemand and on BluRay and DVD

As you can tell from my Catch Ups, I love a good action movie but this one wasn’t my call—my husband read about it under new DVD releases and wanted to see it. Since 95 percent of the time I pick our movies, I said sure, let’s watch it. I knew nothing about the movie except what my husband told me, “Looks like an action movie and it has Denzel Washington.” Now Washington has owned a little corner of my heart ever since his performance in Glory so it is never a challenge for me to watch a movie that he’s in. I’m not sure how this happened but I believe Washington is now *60* years old. So this character—who is supposed to be semi-retired and working at a Home Depot-like store warehouse—is a good fit for the aging gracefully Washington.

I posted on Facebook that I was watching this movie and my sister Terese commented, “Didn’t this come from the old TV show?” so I went over to IMDB to check and sure enough, it is loosely based on The Equalizer TV series that ran from 1985 to 1989. I don’t believe I ever saw an episode of it—I was a senior in high school and then in college when it was on and those were busy years. But I do know my sister enjoyed it (hence the comment).

In the opening sequences of the film we see that Robert McCall (Washington) has a routine, segmented life. He enjoys the people he works with and is helping one young man lose weight and study to pass his security guard test. McCall goofs around with the younger Home Depot(like) workers, telling them when they ask about his past that he was a former Pip, forcing his younger coworkers to google Gladys Knight and the Pips to see whether he is kidding or not. McCall eats alone in his apartment each night and washes his single plate, glass, knife and fork afterward. But he cannot sleep so he takes whatever classic novel he is currently reading to a diner that is open all night, has a cup of tea and reads his book. It is here at the diner that he meets Teri (Chloe Grace Moretz), a prostitute who is wholly owned by the Russian mafia. (Have you noticed that the Russian mafia is super big in the villain scene right now in television and movies?) Teri wants to be a singer, and Washington feels very paternal towards her and seems non-judgmental of her line of work–until she is beaten almost to death by her bosses.

Seeing McCall decide whether or not to get involved is one of the great pleasures of the movie and as things escalate, he goes from trying to get Teri free from her pimps to becoming so full of rage that he decides to topple the entire east coast operations of the Russian Mafia. McCall has a formidable opponent in Teddy (Marton Csokas—Celeborn from LOTR, for the LOTR nerds, me *cough cough* me) who is the trouble shooter for the mafia. Teddy is the guy they call when things in the mafia are going to shit. Teddy soon finds out McCall’s weakness—McCall has nothing to lose BUT the people he cares about at the not-Home Depot and his diner-friend Teri.

Things progress in a fairly typical action movie fashion, but since this is an Anthony Fuqua movie the acting is good, the explosions stylized and viewers actually care about the characters. My only complaint is not really a complaint about the movie but about the genre—wouldn’t we just love to see (just once) a man or woman without special ops training get the best of the bad guys? Maybe Melissa McCarthy’s The Spy will deliver?

The ending of The Equalizer definitely left room for a sequel, and with a worldwide gross of over $192 million, and a budget of a “mere” $55 million; we may well be eating popcorn to The Equalizer Returns before long.

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