The Equalizer: punching above its weight

Jon Fuge

Topics Culture

The summer-blockbuster season is almost over. Now, as the more mature movie season begins we can look forward to some more thought-provoking, arthouse offerings rather than the usual set pieces, clunky dialogue and general rubbish (I’m looking at you, Transformers 4) that have sadly come to define the summer blockbuster. But, before all of that, we have another update of an Eighties franchise, The Equalizer, for love-starved action fans to get their teeth into.

The Equalizer was a US TV show in the late Eighties starring Edward Woodward as Robert McCall, a former covert government operative trying to atone for his past sins by offering his services free of charge to those who need them. Antoine Fuqua’s movie update has Denzel Washington take on the Woodward role. Having made an oath to his now-deceased wife that he would leave his old life of punching, kicking and killing behind him, McCall is working in a hardware store and trying his best to lead a normal life. That is until his new friend Teri (Chloë Grace Moretz), a young prostitute, is brutally attacked and left in intensive care by her Russian pimp and his cronies. And so McCall comes out of hiding.

The film’s energetic, enjoyable action sequences initially help lift a tired premise into the ‘watchable’ category. Washington dispatches many a faceless villain with aplomb – and, as it happens, with a variety of hardware products – while Fuqua’s gloomy polish lends some class to the bloodshed. However, it is Washington who truly carries the film with his charisma and tough-guy persona.

The script, lacking in any intrigue or surprises, is the real issue here. Moretz, in particular, isn’t given much to work with. Channeling Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver, Moretz manages, miraculously, to add some depth to her character, but the limp dialogue and predictable narrative means her talents are never truly stretched.

With so much talent behind and in front of the camera, it’s a shame The Equalizer didn’t serve up some late-season action-movie gold. But, going on the obvious franchise-building conclusion, it won’t be long before McCall is hitting our summer screens again.

Jon Fuge is a writer based in London.

Watch the trailer for The Equalizer:

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