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The Equalizer (2014)
Probably best remembered by cinephiles for his lead in the Oscar-nominated Australian film, Breaker Morant (1980), long-time small screen Brit-born actor Edward Woodward, OBE won a Golden Globe in 1986 for his starring role as McCall in The Equalizer TV show. Woodward's popular detective drama about a retired sharp-shooting spy turned New York City crime fighter ran from 1985 to 1989. In Fall 2014, the series' co-producer Michael Sloan reprised McCall in his book, The Equalizer: A Novel, which reportedly features slightly similar story elements to what's found in this movie but isn't an official tie-in.
In the film, Denzel Washington plays personable Boston Home Mart hardware supervisor Robert McCall, suddenly confronted with the brutal beating of recently befriended local call girl Teri who dreams of reclaiming her life as an amateur singer with McCall's paternal encouragement. When Teri's cruel Russian mob-connected pimp Slavi (played by David Meunier) dismisses McCall's attempt to buy her freedom, the resulting blood bath triggers the arrival of Moscow underworld's 'Teddy' to quell a perceived turf war and quickly eliminate this enigmatic new enemy with conspicuous retaliation.
Unfortunately, The Equalizer is predominantly a visually dull, lurching predictable slog through screenwriter Richard Wenk's unimaginatively cobbled adaptation rife with trite prime time stereotypes. Instead of The Equalizer, it should have been called The Tranquilizer. Washington brings nothing fresh to his perpetually flat performance here, in Hollywood's latest half-cocked dry hump of anything successful from a generation (or more) ago that might strike gold again. What's worse is each over-long, lazily edited scene fails to build any tangible sense of escalating menace towards McCall's heavily hyped, gory badass Bob the Builder offensive against Teddy and his wooden goons.
McCall arms himself with a variety of hardware items including a nail gun, because taking and using the high-powered weaponry of the first thug he ambushes apparently breaks Home Mart's employee rules of politeness, I suppose.
It's barely possible to find anything positive to say about this hugely disappointing flick.
Moretz's character is fussed over as the all-important imperilled hooker with a heart of gold whose hospitalization tilts McCall to cold vigilantism, yet she vanishes for half the film, rematerializing for an awkwardly tacked-on farewell. Home Mart's aspiring security guard Ralphie (Johnny Skourtis) periodically steps in as McCall's other pet project in life coaching, leading to little more than an unimportant back alley face-off with corrupt cops. Even the core notion that wasting a handful of pimp-run gang bangers halts this arm of the Russian mob's East Coast operations without immediate action from anyone similarly connected Stateside seems curious. We see other Boston-based Russian mobsters later on, why aren't they avenging their comrades?
Director Antoine Fuqua seems to realize what a sloppy hot mess he's helming, haphazardly injecting random clips in what appears to be an attempt at captivating a paying audience with more Denzel moments. I'm not talking about the times you see Denzel eyeballing details of the next dead man walking. I'm referring to when - for instance - you see him pensively closing an unnamed old book, locked in deep and silent thought. Or, when you see him sitting alone in a fairground, locked in deep and silent thought. Denzel is a deep and silent Denzel in this movie. Never mind being told the meaning of that old book, or why he's in a fairground in the first place. Is he wondering why almost all of this movie's bad guys have tattoos? Is he just gassy? The fact is, many of those scenes are just pointless empty filler.
Csokas' nasty demonic gangster tattoos were kinda nifty-looking. His otherwise ineffective character seemed tough enough to have those tattoos ironed onto his skin, I guess. That's a positive thing about The Equalizer movie: Csokas' nasty demonic gangster tattoos were kinda nifty-looking. Done.
Boring performances, terrible storytelling and non-existent pacing all sabotage this effort's potential as being anything other than a forgettable, nap-inducing knock-off. Yawn. Reviewed 09/14, © Stephen Bourne, moviequips.ca.
The Equalizer is rated 18A by
the Ontario Film Review Board, citing occasional gory/grotesque
images, slurs, sexual references, infrequent strong aggressive
coarse language, occasional upsetting or disturbing scenes, tobacco
use, limited instances of brief, visually explicit portrayals
of violence, and graphic portrayals of torture/brutality, and
is rated 16+ by la Régie du Cinéma in Québec.
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