“What I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I’ve acquired over a very long career”… Sound familiar?
Lets be honest, Denzel Washington could star in a one-shot film centred around him sleeping for 12 hours, and still knock it out of the park. The guy is spellbinding in every movie he’s in which, in this case, is a good thing, as there is nothing inherently unique or genre-defying about his latest endeavour, ‘The Equalizer’.
Indeed, as you may gather from the quote at the top of this review, the film’s likeness to the ‘Taken’ saga is uncanny which, depending on your perception of the Neeson led action series, can be exciting or daunting. Even the structure of the film is nigh on identical, the first 30 odd minutes painting the picture of a man trying to hold on to the life of the everyday citizen, clocking in from 9 to 5, with glimpses of his ‘set of skills’ teased throughout. Furthermore, once Washington’s character ‘Robert McCall’ inevitably returns to the game, the audience is treated to around one and a half hours of pure badassery, as Washington calmly, cooly and collectedly sizes up men nearly triple his size, and then proceeds to take them out in spectacularly gory fashion.
Where Neeson’s ‘Taken’ is, for the most part, restrained in its depiction of blood splattering and body parts convulsing, Director Antoine Fuqua not only refuses to conceal such violence, but even opts for close-ups on certain occasions, allowing audiences full realisation of the protagonist’s ability to end lives in the amount of time he deems fit (the stopwatch tendency he displays when plotting out his kills adding to the awesomeness of McCall).
Beyond the violence, and the joy that comes from witnessing Washington as its dispenser, the rest of the film is what you’d expect from a film of this genre. The main antagonist, played with suave by New Zealander Marton Csokas (or, as he is in the film, Russian Kevin Spacey) is predictable in his intentions and character arc, while Chloe Grace Moretz and Melissa Leo are criminally underused, Leo’s stint in particular ultimately unnecessary in the scheme of things, able to be filled by any actor or actress. However, this movie is undeniably entertaining from start to finish, and, if you go in expecting what one would from a film with this premise, you’ll find it difficult to dislike, especially with Washington at the helm, constantly captivating the audience with little more than a cool stare here and a neck snap there.
Directed by: Antoine Fuqua
Stars: Denzel Washington, Marton Csokas, Chloe Grace Moretz, Melissa Leo
Originally published on davidzita.net on 27th December, 2014