The Equalizer - Violent justice by power tools - 2.5 stars

It's a Denzel film... 
It used to be that is all that would need to be said. Synonymous with good films and great acting, but as of late, there have been a few missteps in his career. How does The Equalizer stand up?

Opening sequence: "The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why." 

- Mark Twain 

Walking into the cinema...

The quote from Mark Twain sets the tone for Antoine Fuqua's film. It gives us a hint that this will be a twisted tale and the characters will not always be what they seem. 

Cinematic value: 3.5 stars        Family value: 1.5 star
Overall rating: 2.5 stars 

         (Flight, Training Day) has become an industry within himself. As the protagonist or the antagonist, Washington manages to convey cool under pressure. His newest role as Robert McCall is an unassuming hardware worker who coaches and encourages the people around him. He delivers lines like, "Purpose, not perfection", cares for their well being and diagnosis their needs effectively. He portrays a no-nonsense approach that is balanced with a gracious demeanour that disarms all that are around him. McCall reads classic literature like The Old Man and the Sea and The Invisible Man,  throughout the film which seems to have a calming effect on his life. Yet, the depth of his character is conveyed from the opening sequence.  (Training Day, Olympus Has Fallen) directs Washington through the first few two acts with the awareness that there is more to this man than is seen on the surface. One of his problems would be insomnia which causes him to go and sit at the local diner at night. The night brings a regular bunch of night owls, including Teri (), a young prostitute who needs someone to talk about life and guide her through her young, but disastrous life on the streets. This platonic relationship begins a series of events that bring Robert's past to light. Through serious events that occur to Teri and others, he shows expert skills in military-level combat skills. The introduction of these hidden skills come with a run-in with the local Russian mafia. Because of McCall's unexpected impact on the local crime scene, a specialist named Teddy () is brought in to find and stop him. When the pressure is put in Washington's character, Fuqua brings much of the McCall's background evident and shows how he can stop the local and foreign crime ring. The means of stopping the branch of the Russian criminals leads to a violent spree that spreads across Boston and overseas. Will he be able to get back to his quiet life?
        Denzel last worked with Fuqua on Training Day which led to Washington's lead actor Academy Award performance. They work well together within the story and capitalise on Denzel's ability to quietly, smoulder to action on the screen. The writing in the first two acts is compelling and pulls the audience on side with McCall. The character development in The Equalizer makes for good cinema. The writers take care to develop the supporting roles to give depth to the story. A key to the film is Teri and Moretz hold her own against Washington. She seems to be all over Hollywood this year and proves to be a force in modern cinema. Throughout films in 2014, directors have not developed strong antagonists. Fuqua manages to develop one best villains of the year in Csokas's Teddy. Each layer of this character becomes beautifully darker and he is a perfect foil for McCall. The story line makes for a brilliant mix of underworld and intrigue. The film brings together two worlds that were never meant to come in contact with one another, but the unplanned combustion makes for great cinematic tension. 
      And then it happened, the cliched direction in the third act. The introduction of McCall's past life does not merely feel like the third act, the story turn feels like another film. Denzel is convincing as a  brilliant, secret agent, but it seems to be too much for the story to remain accessible. Just because something is probable does not justify the major shift in this screenplay. With the shift Fuqua adds a hyper violent experience to the unbelievable conclusion. Violence and language can add to a storyline, but The Equalizer pushes the limits of effective use of these components. Due to the violence and language, this film is meant for an adult audience.  The beginning of the film has the potential to be a great film, but the final scenes move to an unfortunate cliche. Fuqua and Washington are a good combination and have the makings a great film, but after great story development the ending turns this film into an average cinematic action film.        

Leaving the cinema...
The Equalizer has the 'Denzel draw' and seems to capitalise on all of his strengths, but fails to deliver a complete package. The film has great character development and concern for McCall and his surrounding cast, but the screen writers seemed to rush to excessive violence to wrap up their story. Instead of going to The Equalizer, it might be better for you to rent American Gangster, Deja Vu or Man on Fire. Stories with violence and language, but effective telling of the story, great characters, good direction and better use of Washington's abilities.


Reel Dialogue: What are the bigger questions to consider from this film? 
1. Is the God of the Bible a God of justice? (Psalm 37: 27-29, Romans 12:19)
2. Where is true salvation? (John 3:16-18, Luke 5:32)
3. Is violence ever justified? (Matthew 5)

Written by Russell Matthews based on a five star rating system @ Russelling Reviews #russellingreviews

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