FRIDAY NIGHT/GREEN JEANS MOVIE REVIEW: Last night, Captain Critic and I saw “The Equalizer,” which stars Denzel Washington (The Book of Eli, Training Day ), Marton Csokas (The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, xXx), Chloe Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass, Hugo), David Harbour (Suicide Squad, Quantum of Solace), Haley Bennett (The Magnificent Seven , The Girl on a Train), Johnny Skourtis (Dying to Kill, Noise Matters), Bill Pullman (Independence Day, While You Were Sleeping), Melissa Leo (Oblivion, The Fighter), and David Meunier (Aquarius [TV series], Justified [TV series]). It is directed by Antoine Fuqua (Southpaw, The Magnificent Seven ) and written by Richard Wenk (The Expendables 2, 16 Blocks). Robert McCall (Washington) is a man with a dark, mysterious past that he left long behind him. However, when he notices a young prostitute (Moretz) getting treated terribly by a violent Russian mob, he decides to act, using the skills from his past to take care of business.
Antoine Fuqua has made some relatively solid features in his history in film making, though I have only seen his most recent flicks. His direction is sleek yet masterful, and I find myself engaged with his shots and cinematography. “The Equalizer” is no exception, as it is directed professionally and is shot in beautiful locations, from the diner McCall eats at to the mansion that Brian Plummer (Pullman) and his wife live at. This movie has a lot of potential to it, with many good aesthetics flowing into the story to make it pop. Unfortunately, the story itself sucks. Didn’t see that coming did you? Well, neither did I. What started out as a mysterious drama that centered on McCall and a sad prostitute, ended in a plot too big for its britches, making for silly sequences and a finisher that will surely make you face palm. There’s many issues with this script, all which make the characters fall flat and the conflict they face predictable and exhaustive. Where to start? Let’s look at the beginning. Like I mentioned, this started out as a close-knit drama of a simple man who works at Home Mart (seriously?), noticing a prostitute getting mistreated by her pimps at a diner he regularly spends time at. The diner itself was a beautiful set and reminded me of Edward Hopper’s masterful painting, “Nighthawks.” The setup for McCall was interesting, as he was a man who sat at a small table, reading a classic book every night he spent in the diner because his dead wife tried to read the top 100 books of all time, only reaching ninety-seven. There was promise to this, even though I saw the resolution being a simple fix: kill the pimps, save the prostitute. It seemed like a straight shot, but I was hoping for some complications or fresh ideas to be interwoven throughout the plot to make things entertaining or inventive. This was not the case. Quickly, the plot devolved from a simple execution to the utter wipe out of the entire Russian mob. Sure, as McCall killed one guy his boss would come to clean up the mess, and then that guy’s boss after that, but it got to be too Hollywood and hokey at the same time. I’ve seen plenty of action movies in my time; in fact, I’d consider myself an action enthusiast since I enjoy watching features with either Tom Cruise running or Michael Bay tossing some grenades towards Shia LaBeouf’s direction. However, this was too much of a cardboard cut-out for me. On top of that, it is extremely slow and has too much build-up for no reason. Clocking in at two hours and twelve minutes, the film could’ve easily been shaved down to an hour and thirty. Most of the exposition was repetitive and instinctively understood. When McCall saw a bruise on the prostitute’s face, I knew she got punished by her boss. But, for length’s sake, he had to inquire about it, leading to unnecessary dialogue about a wife I know who is dead and a mix tape I could care less to listen to. Richard Wenk, the writer, wanted me to care for these characters, therefore developing them in the way he knows best: with dull, boring interactions that aren’t quick enough. I couldn’t tell you how many times McCall escaped the clutches of a Russian leader or gave a pep talk to a fat guy who wanted to become a security guard. So many that it got tiring. I often asked the question, “is this necessary?” or “will this pay off at the end?” You’ll find that, while some do, the conclusion isn’t as satisfying as you want it to be. Somewhere along the way, I realized that this film would come crashing down, flinging into a dumpster fire by the time the third act arrived. It may have been when McCall blew up a random freighter, walking away in slow motion while the explosion was seen behind him (probably the most hilarious scene the movie had to offer). It was stupid, as was what followed in the remaining hour. Many sighs were given and eyes rolled until they could might as well fall out of my skull. The conflict was too big for McCall and resulting in an unforgiving battle in a silly location that I won’t spoil. However, I will say that the front cover to the blu-ray, where Denzel is holding a gun in the rain, takes place in the final fight at this location which I said was silly. I couldn’t tell you how furious I was at this revelation. What makes this thrill ride even better is the fact that McCall was only injured once or twice. That’s right, he was essentially a god, wheeling and dealing with ease. There was no struggle, no remorse. Simply a plot device to move things along. I admit that Denzel did as good as he could with the script he was given. None of the actors in this were terrible, as quite a bit of them were solid. It just all depends on the writing they are bestowed. Aside from some good direction, beautiful locations (besides Home Mart), and decent acting, there isn’t much to “The Equalizer.” Heck, I don’t even know why it’s called that. What is he equalizing? What does that mean? Who knows. All I need to know is that this was a sorry excuse for an action flick with little appeal to draw in the audience. If you come across this title, I’d recommend you to try another Denzel movie instead; maybe “The Book of Eli” will tickle your fancy. FINAL SCORE: 50%= Burnt Popcorn
Here is the trailer: