THE EQUALIZER (2014) – FILM REVIEW BY PAUL LAIGHT
**MASSIVE SPOILERS AHEAD**
This pulpy, yet efficient remake of the 1980s ITV “classic” features Denzil Washington on decent form as a humble blue-collar worker with both a conscience and mysterious past. It’s a brutal and fun film which runs the gamut of film clichés featuring:
- Russian gangsters called Sergei and Vladimir sporting more tattoos than skin.
- Young tart-with-a-heart in distress.
- The “hero-surveys-the-scene” POV shots before a fight as seen in Downey Jnr’s Sherlock Holmes.
- Aerial and time-lapse shots of the city to a brooding guitar soundtrack.
- Corrupt cops, politicians and Russian Oligarchs as nemeses.
- Hero attempts to overcome the loss of a loved one by turning his back on his violent past.
- Hero with insomnia reads Hemingway and drinks tea in the same café every night.
- Hero with OCD turns out to be a shit-hot former CIA operative who decides he can’t change and kicks some gangster’s arse!
Despite such bog-standard features genre director Antoine Fuqua and Denzil Washington deliver a bone-crushing and tense thriller. It contains some cracking over-the-top violence notably in the final showdown where Denzil takes down the bad guys at the B & Q where he works.
Special mention though goes to Martin Csokas who gave his Russian villain a breathtaking menace which lit up the screen whenever he appeared. He was a highlight along with some very well-orchestrated action.
Denzil Washington is probably the best movie actor around as he has a knack of turning average scripts into something very watchable and this is no different. I can see why he was attracted to this character: a Robin Hood type who uses his special training to assist those in the neighbourhood and eventually turns his brutal killing abilities to something more global.
This is nowhere near as good as the Fuqua/Washington double-teamed Training Day (2001) for which the actor received the Oscar for Best Actor or the equally brutal Man On Fire (2004) which is something of an underrated classic in my view but while instantly forgettable it’s still unashamedly entertaining and had me gripped throughout the slightly overlong running time.