Denzel Washington. My man! Back again to tell the world that King Kong ain't got Banana Republic on him. Washington plays Robert McCall, a mild-mannered man, living a quiet life in Boston"¦ until we learn that he has a mysterious past! And then he has to use that mysterious past to save and protect the people he cares about in the present. I know I make this movie sound like it's all about time-travel. But it's not. I'm just trying to make it sound cooler than it actually is.
The Equalizer is based on a TV show with the same name that ran on CBS from 1985-1989. I wasn't born then and never heard of it until now, so I can't tell you how the two mediums compare. What works in this film is the strong acting led by Washington and Csokas. Whether together on screen or apart, these two actors are magnetic forces that can't be reckoned with. The action sequences are brutal, crackling, and well choreographed to fit the skills that Washington's character has"¦ no matter how far-fetched and gruesome it may be for some. The film also has a nice score from Harry Gregson-Williams that is more effective when it's somber and ambient.
Though I appreciate the film for trying to take its time in unfolding its story, it's far too long at 131 minutes. The first thirty minutes give you a feel of an independent movie/character study that never ultimately becomes a character study but a series of events for Washington to hunt and kill more bad guys. I'm fine with this as long as the movie doesn't flirt with the idea that it's actually trying to show some true character development.
Unfortunately it does, resulting in an identity crisis that confuses its core audience. At times, the film tries to be both and suffers because it has too much going on to give every element in the film its proper justice. But thankfully, the filmmakers know their objective and don't dabble in the indie sector too long.
It's rare to find a sub-par action plot that's elevated because of its cast and crew. And with that, you can argue that it still doesn't make the movie any better. Yes, it's cliché and hard to believe: one man with a special set of skills vs. the Russian mob. Wait. Isn't that a Liam Neeson movie? I think we tend to hold movies in a higher regard when certain critically-acclaimed actors (like Denzel) take on roles in movies that seem to be beneath their caliber of greatness.
Though this movie has an Academy Award-winning actor in it, this movie knows it's no Oscar contender. It's easy to label it as a mediocre action movie. But I see Washington's character. He is a vigilante by definition, but I consider him a superhero, and this film is a superhero movie because his skills are unstoppable. And even with the power to be unstoppable, Washington's character uses it for good because, most of all, he is good. The movie works because it knows how to use Denzel's powers. The film doesn't want him to save the world, just the day.