Thirteen years is a long time for Training Day director Antoine Fuqua and his Oscar-winning lead Denzel Washington to reunite. It’s also a long time for careers to shift and whilst the latter’s work hasn’t really been hindered by his so-so turnouts since, the former hasn’t done a film that’s topped it. Admittedly The Equalizer doesn’t change the situation, but the reunion does rekindle whatever chemistry they had, resulting in an entertaining but ultimately flawed film.
Connected to the original television series starring Edward Woodward in name only, Washington plays incredibly mild man of mystery with a hint of OCD Robert McCall. Polite and friendly employee of a hardware store who is liked by all, between laughs over lunch breaks and work baseball games, McCall has a simple life that runs like clockwork, until he meets a young woman of the night (Chloe Moretz) and her violent Russian mob employer that puts her in hospital. Here is where the plot thickens (of what plot there is) as McCall switches to ex-special agent mode dispatching heavily tattooed goons, in an array of wonderfully clever and bone-breaking ways.
A vigilante plot like any other, Fuqua doesn’t break the mould but instead crams it with various cliches that could risk it being lost among any other Friday night action flick you’re used to. Seeing the hero walks into a room full of bad lads and predictably put them on the floor without a scratch isn’t new, but when said bad lads are being levelled by Denzel Washington it’s one you can’t help but get sucked in to. Bringing the same threatening demeanour that he unleashed in that vengeful viewing Man on Fire, Washington strolls through the scene with the same charm and gravitas we’ve become so accustomed to, reviving the film whenever he opens his mouth or jams his fist into someone else’s. Seeing McCall go to work on some evil doer sure is thrilling, but there’s still the undeniable fact that we’re watching a high calibre actor in a mediocre film and it becomes even more noticeable in the films third act.
Even with the added intensity of Marton Czokas as a psycho henchman from the motherland sent after our hero, their showdown and the film is tied up terribly, highlighting just how much effort was spent on the bloody scraps than the story that was driving them. Still, there’s room for improvement and considering that this feels and throws punches like a Taken film we really shouldn’t be surprised if someone calls Robert McCall again and we’ve just introduced to Denzel Washington’s first ever franchise.