johnlink ranks THE EQUALIZER (2014)

Denzel Washington as an assassin-type trying to live out his life quietly before using his particular set of skills for another run? I’ll watch that movie all day long. Honestly, I knew nothing at all about this movie going in besides the fact that Denzel was on the poster holding a gun and that this was an action flick. The less you know about a movie, the better it can be.


I watched THE EQUALIZER (2014) on 6.1.15. It was my first viewing of the film.

In a genre filled with derivative plots and lazy writing, THE EQUALIZER is the best original suspense-action flick since TAKEN. On the surface the two films may seem similar. Both contain a guy who used to be violent for a living who decide to take a matter into their own hands. Both contain European villains who carry guns and are clearly about to get the crap beaten out of them. But, really, these are two separate films.

Where TAKEN is a franchise-ready PG-13 movie with lots of implied violence, THE EQUALIZER is a longer, more thoughtful, and more violent R-rated flick. While the ending of THE EQUALIZER certainly leaves itself open for a follow-up, this is a movie (surprisingly based on an 80s TV show), which doesn’t necessarily need one.

Robert (Denzel Washington) is working at a DIY store. His co-workers tease him about his previous career, though noone seems to know what he did for a living. An insomniac who reads late at a 24-hour-diner, Robert befriends a young prostitute (Chloe Grace Moretz). When the girl is treated roughly by her Russian pimp, Robert decides to confront the guy in his office. Chaos ensues, and a dangerous hunter (Marton Csokas) comes into Boston to discern the threat level. This leads to hero and protagonist engaging in a game of cat-and-mouse.


Where a normal action flick would have the prostitute being the damsel in distress, THE EQUALIZER never goes there. This is a refreshing bit of writing which allows the script to feel unbound by cliche. While there are certainly a large number of plot holes and action tropes, the back-and-forth is enough to keep us from noticing all that much.

We never get a real background on Robert. The closest we get are a couple of old friends (Melissa Leo and Bill Pullman) from his past life who Robert uses as a sounding board at one point. Instead, we learn about Robert through his OCD, his inner clock, and his quiet violence. He never uses a gun, but he sure is creative with his kills. THE EQUALIZER is like a post-modern of an old 90s action flick. There is creativity put into the action sequences, but it is done in a way that takes itself somewhat seriously. This shouldn’t work. But Denzel is just so believable as the man with the corkscrew (or shot glass, or barbed wire, or… any number of household items), that it becomes very easy to let this movie just take us for a ride.

Csokas provides a better-than-normal villain. He is memorable in a genre with way too many disposable European bad guys. While all of the henchmen in this movie prove to be in that latter category, Csokas’ Teddy is a sociopath with an intelligence to nearly rival Robert’s. THE EQUALIZER does always seem to keep Robert a step ahead, and because of that we never feel he is truly in danger. If a sequel is to come about (and I would watch it in a second), it would behoove the scriptwriters to make Robert squirm a little more. He’s just too smart for all involved here.

Director Antoine Fuqua proves, once again, that he can provide ample eye-candy to what could be a movie without style. While Tony Scott will always be the guy who knew best how to use Denzel, Fuqua comes a close second between THE EQUALIZER and TRAINING DAY. But for all the accolades TRAINING DAY garnered, THE EQUALIZER is the more entertaining and ultimately the more satisfying movie.




FINAL SCORE: 7.5 out of 10

~ by johnlink00 on June 1, 2015.

2 Responses to “johnlink ranks THE EQUALIZER (2014)”

  1. The villain makes all the difference with The Equalizer. Anyone remember the villain from Taken 3? Anyone? I rest my case. Denzel is so charismatic and menacing that the story isn’t that important.

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