Clichéd ending ruins what should have been a good film.


Film Review © 2014 by Trip Reynolds


Directed by Antoine Fuqua. Screenplay by Richard Wenk, from the television series written by Michael Sloan and Richard Lindheim. Produced by Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal, Tony Eldridge, Mace Neufeld, Alex Siskin, Michael Sloan, Steve Tisch, Denzel Washington, and Richard Wenk. Executive produced by David J. Bloomfield, Ezra Swerdlow, and Ben Waisbren. Co-produced by Lance Johnson. Associate produced by Molly Allen.

Starring: Denzel Washington (as ex-superspy Robert McCall), Marton Csokas (as the evil, Teddy), Chloë Grace Moretz (as Teri), David Harbour (as Masters), Haley Bennett (as Mandy), Bill Pullman (as Brian Plummer), Melissa Leo (as Susan Plummer), David Meunier (as Slavi), Johnny Skourtis (as Ralphie), Alex Veadov (as Tevi), Vladimir Kulich (as Vladimir Pushkin, E. Roger Mitchell (as Lead Investigator), James Wilcox (as Pederson), Mike O'Dea (as Remar), Anastasia Sanidopoulos Mousis (as Jenny), Allen Maldonado (as Marcus), Rhet Kidd (as Jay), Mike Morrell (as HM Brian), Matt Lasky (as Marat), Shawn Fitzgibbon (as Little John Looney), Vitaliy Shtabnoy (as Andri), Timothy John Smith (as Detective Gilly), Robert Wahlberg (as Detective Harris), and a host of others.

Epilogue: At the end of "The Equalizer," after our hero, Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) kills the Russian bad guy Teddy (Marton Csokas), McCall travels from the U.S. to Russia to kill Teddy's boss, an extremely well-connected (politics, technology, etc.) crime boss living in an isolated and heavily guarded mansion. FACT: Russia has a population of 142,470,272 (July 2014 est.), which only includes a sparse population of about 40,000 black people. Nevertheless, somehow, McCall, a 6'1" noticeably dark Black man, is able to "sneak" into Russia and "sneak" into this heavily guarded mansion in the broad daylight to kill the crime boss. Stop laughing. It's not until the last five minutes of "The Equalizer" that we discover the film is actually a fantasy.

The story? Based on the television series, "The Equalizer," that starred Edward Woodward and aired on CBS from 1985 to 1989, this feature film also profiles the life of a retired superspy with a mysterious past, who upon seeing crime and injustice about him, uses his skills to both protect and seek vengence on behalf of innocent people. Other than Denzel Washington, Bill Pullman is very likely the only cast member with a celebrity known to most U.S. audiences, which is not necessarily bad, but establishes this film more as a "B" movie than a theatrical "A" release. In "The Equalizer," McCall is retired from the spygame, and works in a non-supervisory capacity at a Home Depot-like store; however, many of his co-workers sense McCall is hiding something from his past, because he's, well, such a capable but non-threatening know-it-all.

As usual, Washington takes a "low key" approach in presenting his character, ex-superspy Robert McCall. As usual with films that feature a Black man in a major U.S. or international release, Washington is again "blacastrated" as a celibate, monk-like character with no on-screen intimacy with any female character; simply put, "Black man" + "castrate" = "blacastrate." The only other on-screen "relationship option" of intimacy for a Black man in a major U.S. or international release is to appear as physically or mentally abusive to women, a pimp, adulterer/philanderer, or as a homosexual. This is an action film, so Washington's McCall keeps his penis in his pants.

Despite the aforementioned limitations and stereotypes, film appears fresh, interesting and exciting - at least until the last twenty minutes. Unfortunately, then the film dives directly into nothing more than a clichéd action movie with protracted and unrealistic fight scenes that lasted far too long. McCall is supposed to be a smart and highly skilled "superspy," but he doesn't demonstrate such by allowing his opponents to keep their weapons, refusing to use weapons he captured from his opponents, and allowing himself to become injured unnecessarily.

Initial direction by Antoine Fuqua was strong and nicely coupled with crisp editing by Lindsay Graham and Mary Vernieu. Unfortunately, the last twenty minutes of film (the climatic shoot-out scenes) evolved into a clichéd-slow-motion-voyeuristic-action sequence that reduced film from a theatrical motion picture release to the mediocrity of many action-oriented commerical television programs. The close-up slow-motion sequences that captured drops of water landing on Washington's eyelashes as he turns to face his evil opponent mano-a-mano in the climatic final gunfight was pretentious. Your time would be better served watching Kiefer Sutherland's television spy drama, "24" than investing 132 minutes watching "The Equalizer."

Recommendation: This is a home video release; rent it, don't buy it unless you want to add it to your Denzel Washington collection. Even better, buy/rent/download/view any of the 192 episodes produced during eight seasons of the television series "24."