Denzel stars as Robert McCall, a seemingly quite average sort of kind. He works at the local “Home Mart”, lives alone, spends his sleepless evenings in a quite little diner, his clean well light place, making his way through the one hundred books that everyone should read. An acquaintance, who calls herself Teri (Chloe Grace Moretz) notices “something lost in his eye”. That is because Robert McCall is not who or what he appears to be.
A smarter script than expected (by Robert Wenk) based on the mid-1980’s cult TV series starring Edward Woodward (The Wicker Man)., benefits from a great lead character and it’s wise and unexpected use of literary references. When the movie starts McCall is reading Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea” and foretells a link to both the novel and his own story when summarizing the story as being about an old man who encounters his greatest adversary after he thought that part of his life was over. There are other, some less overt literary references used through out.
As for director Fuqua, he is one of the better action directors around today, after a sketchy start with the John Woo produced Imation picture “The Replacement Killers” (1998), Fuqua has followed with a string of admirable efforts including the Bruce Willis-starrer “Tears of the Sun” (2004) and the recent, “Olympus Has Fallen” (2013), among others. Fuqua knows how to stage an action scene, but what’s more, he knows how to tell a story. Both of these talents manage to be fully utilized in “The Equalizer”, which amounts to be one of his most, if not his most fully realized effort.
“The Equalizer” is told in a dark and gritty manner with a moody nourish philosophical foreboding. Exceptionally well produced with stylish violence and often graphic bloodshed that does not just amount to a series of set pieces. Nice camera angles with plentiful tracking shots courtesy of cinematographer Mauro Fiore, help to establish the bad ass presence of the picture’s protagonist. Also a great use of soundtrack music (by Harry Gregson-Williams) and a few superior songs (including a new one by Eminem) further enhance the film.
This is one of the few TV adaptations that is worth the time, perhaps the best TV to movie since Tommy Lee Jones led the chase for Harrison Ford in “The Fugitive”, way back in 1993. We don’t generally ask for TV to movie adaptations, but this is one time I look foreword to the sequel, which has been announced. Fuqua and Washington are also said to be planning a modern day remake of the beloved Steve McQueen-Charles Bronson western “The Magnificent Seven” (1960). Fuqua teamed with Washington, one of the most appealing of the aging action stars, should have a rather strong cinematic potential. We can hope that there will be other interesting collaborations between the two, even beyond those already mentioned.
One final note, The Equalizer” is interesting as it brings Denzel full circle career-wise, urban legend has it that Denzel made his film debut mugging Charles Bronson in “Death Wish” (1974). He even has an Imdb.com credit for the granddaddy of all urban revenge films. Now, Denzel would appear to be channeling the late Bronson. This I can get behind.