The Equalizer has its share of problems, primarily with the pacing though some more editing would’ve made for a strong picture, but even so, the film does ride on Denzel Washington’s charisma and screen presence and that alone makes this at least worth a rental.
Genre(s): Action, Crime, Suspense/Thriller
Sony | R – 132 min. – $34.99 | December 30, 2014
THE MOVIE – 3.5/5
“If someone has a problem, if the odds are stacked against them, if they have nowhere else to turn, McCall will help. He is The Equalizer.” The 1980s television show created by Michael Sloan and Richard Lindheim gets a 21st century update and a grittier look add to a lead who kicks all kinds of butt.
Note: This review contains spoilers about the plot. Please skip if you don’t want to learn certain plot points.
The movie’s first 15-20 minutes is slowly paced, introducing the world according to Robert McCall (DENZEL WASHINGTON), a restless man who spends his waking nights at a local café taking in a book and conversing with call girl Alina (CHLOE GRACE MORETZ) about said book. McCall’s days are spent working a Home Depot-like store, pushing a trolley and just going about an ordinary and quite dull existence.
But after Teri is brutally beaten by her pimp, Slavi (DAVID MEUNIER) and is sent to the hospital, something within awakens within McCall. He first goes to Slavi offering $9800 to buy Teri’s freedom but the offer is refused. Just as McCall is about to leave, that switch gets turned on and kick-assery commences, dispatching Slavi and his men in less than 30 seconds.
As it’s said, no good deed, as violent as this might’ve been, goes unpunished. Slavi was just a little fish within a Russian crime organization and with his death, money and shipments are at a standstill. So enter fixer, and sociopath, Teddy (MARTON CSOKAS), tasked to find the perpetrator and after eliminating competing gangs and factions, through utterly brutal measures, his investigation eventually leads right to McCall’s doorstep where the two men size one another up.
As Teddy tries to unravel McCall’s background, which is a creation of fiction, McCall does the same reaching out to former contacts within the Agency in Susan (MELISSA LEO) and Brian Plummer (BILL PULLMAN) to get a file on Teddy to which McCall uses to fight back as it’s apparent Teddy will stop at nothing until McCall is dead.
First things first, I did enjoy The Equalizer primarily because of Denzel Washington who elevates an otherwise so-so script combined with his re-teaming with Training Day director Antoine Fuqua. Together they bring a brutal retelling of the story and in the process make what could’ve been a poor movie into something a bit more memorable. Make no mistake, Washington makes this movie, without him, it would be another forgettable TV-to-Film adaptation.
That being said, it is a lengthy film with plenty that could’ve been trimmed. For one, we get a quasi-side story involving McCall’s coworker (JOHNNY SKOURTIS) as he attempts to lose enough weight to get the security job. While it does succeed in showing McCall’s kind heart and whatnot, it also bogs down the overall plot and has little payoff. You add that to the fact the first 15-20 minutes is more character set-up than any sort of plot being laid out, and one’s patience, even with Washington, might begin to wane. However, once the action begins and the side stories are set aside, the film does move at a brisk pace culminating with a cool finale set against some great choice music (including Zack Hemsey’s haunting song, “Vengeance”).
The Equalizer, all things being *ahem* equal, is a solid enough entertaining flick but not because of the direction or story and with no help in the pacing arena either, but squarely on the shoulders of Denzel Washington who manages to rise above the film’s flaws, turning a bad movie into something tolerable; I can only hope when they do the sequel (which got a greenlight even before this one opened) will correct this one’s problems.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 3.0/5
This release comes with a mated, title embossed, slip cover. Inside is a redemption code for the Digital HD copy.
Vengeance Mode (2:35:00; HD) – This feature provides scene-specific video as the movie plays with what is more or less commentary by actor Denzel Washington and director Antoine Fuqua. There’s about 20-minutes worth of material. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Inside The Equalizer (7:51; HD) is a generic behind-the-scenes featurette with some basic cast and crew interviews about the project. It doesn’t really delve that deep into the production is more of an advert than anything. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Denzel Washington: A Different Kind of Superhero (6:56; HD) – This is a profile on Washington from the perspective of his co-stars and his own thoughts on the character. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Equalizer Vision: Antoine Fuqua (7:06; HD) looks at the director and his process of making the movie. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Children of the Night (5:23; HD) centers on actress Chloe Grace Moretz, her character and thoughts from her co-stars and crew about working with her as well as doing the research.
One Man Army: Training and Fighting (6:40; HD) provides some BTS footage with how some of the fight scenes were shot. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Home Mart: Taking Care of Business One Bolt at a Time (2:11; HD) is a mock advertisement for the movie as if it were a commercial for the fictional Home Mart store.
Also included is a Photo Gallery. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Previews – Fury, No Good Deed, Foxcatcher, When the Game Stands Tall, Predestination
VIDEO – 5.0/5
The Equalizer attempts to even the odds onto Blu-ray presented with a 2.40 widescreen aspect ratio and a well done 1080p high-definition transfer. Not surprising, but the picture quality looks incredible from excellent, and sharp, detail levels, especially close-ups, to the colors which range from stark darkness in most scenes. It’s a clean transfer with no obvious signs of artifacts, pixilation or aliasing.
AUDIO – 5.0/5
Not to be outdone, we also get a 7.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio track which showcases both crisp and clear dialogue levels but comes to life into the third action with explosions, gunfire and the brutal screams at the hands of the vengeful Robert McCall. It’s all around a fantastic lossless track that is reference quality work.
OVERALL – 3.75/5
Overall, The Equalizer has its share of problems, primarily with the pacing though some more editing would’ve made for a strong picture, but even so, the film does ride on Denzel Washington’s charisma and screen presence and that alone makes this at least worth a rental. The Blu-ray released by Song offers a fair number of bonus material but its strength is in the audio/video transfers.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.