Denzel Washington has always been a great actor and has delivered countless great performances, but none were as unexpected as his turn in 2001s Training Day from director Antoine Fuqua. Now the two are teaming up once again for the latest TV show turned film The Equalizer based on the 1985 series that starred Edward Woodward, but can this film bring something new to the idea to help it stand out and once again bring the magic together from these two or will it be a case that never should have been taken?
The Equalizer follows a man who believes he has put his mysterious past behind him and dedicated himself to beginning a new, quiet life. But when he meets a young girl under the control of ultra-violent Russian gangsters, he can’t stand idly by and decides to help her. Armed with hidden skills that allow him to serve vengeance against anyone who would brutalize the helpless, he comes out of his self-imposed retirement and finds his desire for justice reawakened. 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. Usually these TV to film ideas just don’t work especially when they cast against type, but this film is the exception. Everything about this film works to not only do the series justice, but creates a great new possible franchise for Washington. The biggest reason this film works at all is because of Washington’s subtle, menacing performance with this character. He has always had this bad ass swagger about him and it just adds to the character here. He shows little emotion throughout, but you can see the inner turmoil when he is having to go back to that dark world he left behind and while he doesn’t want to be there, once he is the world better watch out. This isn’t a straight forward action movie, but rest assured there is plenty of action and it is bloody, hardcore and perfect for this world. Fuqua has taken a semi decent little action series and turned it into an insane, badass action thriller that delivers numerous great moments in both dialogue and action. In regards to the action they have crafted some great hand to hand action, but also some fun clever kills letting Washington cut lose and do his thing. The film sports a great supporting cast alongside Washington including Chloe Grace Mortez, Melissa Leo, Bill Pullman, Martin Csokas, and David Narbour with some of them making more of glorified cameos, but all of them serve an important part to move this forward and could be utilized in the future.
This is a film that in anyone else’s hands probably wouldn’t have worked, but thankfully delivers everything it set out too and more. The film feels like it runs a bit long but in a good way taking time to set up the characters that all serve a purpose and helps to elevate the climax sequence even further. This could very well be the start of a franchise for Washington and if they keep this idea intact it will be a welcomed one.