Brutal thriller reuniting Denzel Washington with Training Day director Antoine Fuqua
The Equalizer is a nominal product of the gritty 1980s TV series - starring Edward Woodward as a vigilante private eye prowling the Big Apple’s mean streets - which lifts the title, character and concept but nothing else. Not even Stewart Copeland’s ferocious synth theme that pounded its way through the credits. Indeed, it’s hard to know exactly why they even bothered to call it ‘The Equalizer’, beyond the nostalgia the name might provoke amongst older viewers.
Cynical cash-in or not, it does serve up the chance to witness the reunion between star Denzel Washington and director Antoine Fuqua. They last worked together on Training Day, which scored Washington an Oscar for playing a corrupt cop, though The Equalizer never pretends to approach such fertile ground. It’s a brutal thriller, pure and simple (that Washington’s character is obsessive-compulsive is about as psychologically complex as it gets).
Washington's Robert McCall spends his days working in a hardware depot and his nights alone reading classic literature in a diner, until he comes across a teenage Russian prostitute, Teri (Chloë Grace Moretz), and they strike up a friendship. But when her pimp hospitalises her, McCall takes it upon himself to try and buy her freedom. He winds up killing her employer and his cronies, sending half the Russian mafia after him, led by Marton Csokas’ ruthless killer Teddy. Fortunately, McCall isn't just your friendly neighbourhood shop assistant.
What follows is a relentless cat-and-mouse game, between McCall and his pursuers, which generates enough violence to satisfy the most bloodthirsty of viewers. Mowing through Eastern European bad guys, Washington is an effective killing machine: a Dirty Harry with a Death Wish. Fuqua expertly cranks up the tension, while conveniently overlooking any pesky moral issues that McCall's behaviour raises. It’s about as subtle as a bulldozer.
General release from Fri 26 Sep.