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September 29, 2023

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Media Review: “The Equalizer”

“The Equalizer” is an average action film— nothing special, but not a terrible way to spend two hours either.

The movie seems promising in the beginning. Denzel Washington is the methodical Robert McCall, a former government operative now trying to live a normal life as a home improvement store employee.

His life is orderly now. McCall performs daily tasks with a stopwatch running. He visits the same diner at night where he places his book in the same spot on the table and has the same tea from a tea bag he brings from home, precisely wrapped in a napkin.

Another regular late-night diner patron is Teri [Chloë Grace Moretz] a prostitute who’s unhappy with her violent boss, Slavi.

McCall and Teri aren’t exactly friends, but they’re friendly. She asks about the book he’s reading; he encourages her passion for singing.

He knows she’s a prostitute but he doesn’t judge her. McCall stays out of her personal life until Slavi puts her in the ICU.

After that, McCall goes looking for Slavi and his Russian gangster henchmen, and the movie gets less interesting. We get predictable fight scenes from which McCall somehow emerges with minor scrapes despite fighting groups of big men with guns.

McCall’s attention to detail comes in handy when he’s noticing details in preparation of taking out enemies. The slow motion shots that show the audience the details McCall has been noticing are clichéd, but I can’t complain much. I don’t know a better way to bring the audience up to speed.

We know that in the end, McCall will take the bad guys down one way or another. Still, it’s fun to watch him get creative in the home improvement store. The ways he uses barbed wire and drills are not ways you should try at home.

McCall’s character isn’t anything special, but Washington’s performance was satisfying. He’s careful in portraying McCall’s precise actions so the quirks are believable.

Considering Teri is the whole reason McCall goes after the Russian gang, Moretz doesn’t seem to get enough screen time. In one scene the 17-year-old actress believably transitions from a prostitute reluctant to meet an obese client into a prostitute pretending to be pleased to see him.

Johnny Skourtis plays Ralphie, a fairly forgettable coworker of McCall’s. He’s overweight and training for a security position. It goes exactly how you’d probably expect a feel-good storyline about self-improvement to go.

None of the Russian gangsters stood out as individual characters to me, but it doesn’t matter. They’re there to get beaten up and we’re there to enjoy Denzel Washington doing the beating.

There’s nothing special about “The Equalizer,” but it features some good performances and it’s worth sticking around to see creative home improvement store executions.

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