The Equalizer – 3.5/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

the equalizerThe Equalizer – 3.5/5 – There are times when you watch a film; you have to ignore flaws (but still note them) and see there is entertaining, because of one factor in the film.  This has come to the case the latest outing of Denzel Washington.  A man of many faces within his films, he has always held one constant throughout; he can command the screen, no matter how basic the premise.  The Equalizer is a film littered with clichés and basic action, but in the end, it entertains.  Washington provides a foothold that allows the film to be more than just average, but an intense experience.

Premise: A man of mystery, Robert McCall must undertake a journey that will show what is really behind the man; what his ‘skills’ can do if you push the wrong buttons.

I usually start off with describing the main character, but I’ll get secondary characters out of the way.  The second cast are basically one of two things; one-dimensional bad guys left as ‘body counts for main character, or basically plot devices used to setup ‘scene A’ to ‘scene B’ on the side of main character.  The film tries to take its time to showcase certain players (like Moretz’s Teri and Maraton Csokas’s Teddy) but doesn’t allow any real focus.  This hurts the film at points, because of the long running time and the long sequences with the main character.  This would have hurt the film a lot more if it wasn’t for the main character of Robert McCall; played by Denzel Washington.  The movie puts a prime intent to build up his character, and doing that (even with the film trying to refocus some effort on others) overshadows most the flaws.  That is a testament to Washington’s strong charismatic appeal as this ‘mystery man’ with auspicious talents, and his overall great acting experience.  With every line, action and effort put forth with great bravado in every scene, he shows a fragile person.  As you see him on screen, you see his indecision between the life he is ‘trying’ to live and one he is ‘avoiding’ to show.  That confliction helps keep the movie enthralling, especially when it gets into the latter half of the film.  I would say if it wasn’t for Denzel in this film, it would have lacked any appeal to the audience.

The direction puts a stamp on using a lot of character oriented themes.  The film’s whole story revolves around the ‘mystery’ of Robert McCall, and what he did in his past. This ripples through the beginning, middle and end of the film.  The first act starts off with at a slow burn pace.  The methodical pace is meant to buildup who Robert McCall is, at first.  He works for a local home improvement store, doing everything according to his schedule.  You know there is something else to his character, but it never really gets explain (at any point of the film). This is a plus, as Denzel’s commandment of the scenes draws you in, and ‘grips’ you to his conflicted emotions; confused about a past or trying to live as ‘normal’ as possible.  This comes to an ultimate choice, when he decides to help a lonely girl; which is the catalyst for the film’s story.  As the film moves on from this ‘catalyst’ moment, the truth rears its head (slowly) and the cat and mouse game begins.  The Russian Mob brings in an equal of sorts (Teddy), and he tries his best in playing this ‘chess’ game with McCall.  As the film picks up its pace, the darkly scenes are emphasized through the ‘main’ chess players, gritty action sequences and ‘man vs. the world’ mantra.  As all of this happens, the length of the film stretches the story thin, and the utmost time leveled between the ‘important’ points become the typical ‘connect the dots’ use in average films.  This leaves you with a very uneven bulk within the 2nd act.  Even so (as mentioned a few time) The McCall character keeps you engaged, even if the ‘obvious’ flaws start to stand out more.  We eventually get to the third act; as the film begins to boil down to a predictable match between the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ guys.  When we get to this confrontation, it is stretched out to give a dark intense effect.  As has been the case, Washington’s McCall keeps you beating that ‘entertaining’ drum.  The climax is way too obvious, but ironically all the while thrilling.  Even as the film ends on a preposterous note, the feel good epilogue brings the films back to a ‘welcoming’ high note.

The visuals of the film (from beginning to end) are left with to define the aspects of the ‘dark’ mood.  From the use of a city like Boston, and the blending of story with sequences, you get a brooding effect.  In this effect, the action sequences are brought with ‘force’ (visually), allowing for an intense reaction to the irony of the slow burn.  As the intensity simmers to a boil, it breaks any mark that might seem mundane on its own.  The score of the film is a strong point.  The film does well at using complimentary music with standard ‘action’ sounds to invoke grit.  As the action sounds and music blend, it encapsulates the mood; bringing the scenes across as ‘real’ when some are obviously over-the-top.

The Equalizer is a film that has a lot of average layers, but is brought to an entertaining high because of one factor; the main character played by Denzel Washington.  As has been the case for some films, a great actor can carry an average or terrible story.  If you’re a fan of Denzel or like films of this premise, check it out.  You will not be disappointed watching this at the theaters.

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