I’ve never been much of a mathematician but even I can tell the numbers in The Equalizer don’t quite add up.
You see, Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) understandably takes umbrage when Teri (Chloe Grace Moretz), the sweet young hooker who frequents McCall’s favourite all-night diner, ends up in the hospital after a vicious beating from some vile Russian mobsters.
When his attempts to negotiate a reasonable solution fall on deaf ears, McCall does what he does best: he kills the absolute hell out of the bad guys.
And when more violent Russians come to town, well, McCall kills them too.
Don’t get me wrong, anyone who beats up Chloe Grace Moretz deserves everything that’s coming to them.
But as The Equalizer goes on its merrily brutal way, it begins to feel like the movie would be more accurately titled Denzel Washington Slaughters Everyone. (A title that would certainly have me lining up at the box-office, by the way.)
I have to say, I really enjoyed The Equalizer, and not only because it finds some inventively nasty ways for Washington’s McCall to take out the trash.
Loosely based on the ‘80s TV series, which starred a steely Edward Woodward as McCall, it nimbly walks the line separating ridiculous and ridiculously awesome (okay, it sometimes stumbles into ridiculous territory), and occasionally displays a subtlety and intelligence that is most welcome.
Its rock-solid foundation is Washington, who imbues his subdued, secretive superman with some extremely interesting shading.
McCall has a murky past – it’s hinted he did the government’s dirty work, and was very good at it – and a guilty conscience, and he’s attempting to make amends by living a quiet, almost monastic life, working by day at a Bunnings-style hardware store and spending sleepless nights reading classic books.
Of course, that all changes after he singlehandedly wipes out that bunch of high-powered Russian gangsters, resulting in the arrival in town of ruthless enforcer Teddy (a vividly evil Marton Csokas).
It’s a bit of a rush when The Equalizer breaks out the big guns (and any other device that becomes a lethal weapon in McCall’s hands), but the movie is equally effective when it’s a cat-and-mouse game between two well-matched adversaries.
Training Day director Antoine Fuqua gives these scenes a taut intensity, making them just as gripping as the sequences where McCall demonstrates his savage skill-set.
The only problem here is, the character does such a definitive job of eliminating his enemies this time around that you have to wonder how the stakes will be raised in the inevitable sequel.
By the way, there’s something missing from The Equalizer – Stewart Copeland’s utterly boss theme tune from the original series. Don’t sweat it, kids, I got you covered.