14A) The Equalizer (TIFF 2014)
Running Time: 132 Minutes.
2 stars out of 4.
Denzel Washington re teams with his Training Day director Antoine Fuqua for the first time, with this years The Equalizer. Washington's critically acclaimed performance in Training Day ended up winning him an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. Washington and Fuqua hope to recapture the same lightning in the bottle formula from 2001's Training Day with The Equalizer. Premiering at this years Toronto International Film Festival as part of the Gala film selections, The Equalizer was released to audience acclaim, with many praising Washington's performance, as well as Fuquas stylistic direction.
In The Equalizer, Denzel Washington plays Robert McCall, a middle aged retired man, with a mysterious past. Since the passing of his wife, McCall has taken on a post retirement part time job at a home improvement store. When he meets a young girl (Chloe Grace Moretz), who is ruled by Russian Mobsters, he takes responsibility for protecting her at all costs.
The Equalizer is a very fun film. Despite feeling overly familiar, as well as being too predictable, director Antoine Fuqua has found an interesting way to tell this somewhat simple story. While watching the film, I found the quiter more somber moments where we question McCall's past to be the best moments of the film. The action scenes are excellent, and do not use the generic shaky cam technique. Each action sequence is different, and for a film like this, you really end up appreciating that. This film is extremely violent, and I would not recommend taking young kids to see this. It earns its 18A rating, and some scenes are just disturbing.
The film lacks a strong screenplay, and strong villains. Denzel Washington's character is so underwritten, that by the end, you do not really care about him, but only about what he does. The "Russian Mobster" villains are also underwritten, as well as being cliche, uninteresting, there storyline was confusing, and did not make sense. There are hints at character development with McCalls OCD, but these ideas are never executed.
Denzel Washington is terrific, you root for his character the entire film (even if you do not care about him), and he pulls off the intense action sequences. Chloe Grace Moretz is also good, though she does not have enough to do, and had she been included in main plot of the film (as the trailers suggested) than it might have made the film more interesting. The rest of the ensemble which includes Melissa Leo, are also good, though Denzel Washington is the real standout.
I had a great time with this film, and it delivers. It is pure popcorn entertainment. Though at times I was reminded of Home Alone (setting up traps for action sequences), the action sequences deliver. Despite having too many endings, and being too long, I believe that we have a somewhat successful first entry, into what will be a new franchise.