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Archive for January 10th, 2019

Personal Ads:  “Got a problem?  Odds against you?  Call the Equalizer: 212 555 4200.
Today’s reviews are for a movie and its sequel:  Equalizer (2014) and Equalizer 2 (2018)
Both movies star two time Academy Award winning actor Denzel Washington as the lead character: Robert McCall.  The character and stories are based on a moderately successful TV show from the mid / late 1980’s of the same name starring Edward Woodward as McCall.  McCall is basically a “hero for hire” and the show is pretty similar to another TV series I enjoyed from the same period called “Stingray” (see my review of that TV series here).  The main difference is McCall never really seems to ask for a payment, whereas “Stingray” asked for a favor some time in the future.  Anyway, in this version, instead of a geriatric Brit playing McCall, we have a geriatric American.
Equalizer (2014)  —  movie review
This movie is rated “R” for violence, language and implied sex.  Basically we have a normal looking man who has a history as spy / detective / electronics expert and martial artist.  He is “retired” from his official duties at “The Agency” by faking his death.  Whenever he sees someone being hurt or taken advantage of unfairly, he exacts his sense of justice on the bad guy.  He says he usually gives them a chance to do the right thing (mostly they don’t) and if not, well, they don’t usually live to regret it.
In this movie, McCall makes friends with a young hooker who is beaten and nearly killed by her pimp.  The pimp is part of a Russian gang, so McCall ends up having to bring down the gang, too.  There are lots of great fight choreography – particularly a scene which replays in slow motion.  On watching it, I was reminded of a similar “replay” technique / scene used in “The Last Samurai“, another action movie I also enjoyed.  The scene works because it demonstrates the “temporal shift” it is said happens to highly trained and skilled warriors / athletes in which they say time slows down for them as they fight / perform.  Unless you have actually been in that “zone”, it (the feeling) is hard to relate to, but once you have experienced it, you find an enjoyable sense of déjà vu when you see the feeling in film.  At least I always seem to.
If you are a fan of violent action movies (and I can be), you will enjoy this movie because it is literally a string of increasingly violent encounters tied together by a thread of a plot.  It works because Washington carries the hero’s role and the Russian baddie (Nicolai Itchenko played by Marton Paul Csokas) is equally believable.  As an aside, there is also a scene in which a personal item is stolen from a co-worker of McCall.  The item is recovered and McCall is seen wiping down and replacing a hammer at the hardware store shelf display.  There is no “action” at all, but you know the robber has just had a very bad day.
Final Recommendation: strong recommendation.  While the story is almost unbelievable, the hero and the bad guy both make the movie an enjoyable action film.  It is violent and not appropriate for pre-teens.
Equalizer 2 (2018)  —  movie review
Okay, let’s get this out of the way:  “Denzel doesn’t do sequels…”  What we have here is Denzel Washington in his first career sequel reprising his role as Robert McCall: a guy who goes around helping others and righting wrongs.  I don’t mean stopping jay-walkers and litterbugs; I mean Russian gangsters (in Equalizer 1) and here (in the sequel) rogue killers who work both sides of the political fence.  When an “Agency” asset is killed, a former top analyst is sent to make sure it wasn’t a “hit”.  When she gets wacked, something smells fishy in Denmark (actually Brussels).  Because the lady is a lifelong friend of McCall, he must avenge her death.  Oh, and he’s upset because he will only get to kill them once.
The main bad guy in this movie is Dave York (played by Pedro Pascal), who worked for and with McCall before McCall’s staged death.  York was not aware McCall is still alive and he and the rest of McCall’s “team” go private after McCall’s death.  Anyway, the team kill a bunch of people on assignment and then to tidy up loose ends and there is a big battle at the end which (of course) pits McCall against the team.  After tidying up their loose ends McCall gets asked: “Who are you Mr. McCall?”
Final recommendation:  Moderate to strong.  Again, another violent movie…  The sequel is just not quite as good as the first.  Yeah, I know, big surprise.  It’s well shot and reasonably well acted, but the bad guy(s) just aren’t as threatening.  I guess they are a little too “clean” as professionals and lack the intensity of the actors playing the Russian gang in the first movie.  If you are a fan of Denzel or of this genre, you will enjoy this movie – both movies, actually.  I did.  But, it’s really not quite as good as “1”.   There is talk of a “EQ3″…  We’ll see…  I think I would prefer a re-boot / prequel with a younger actor.
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On This Day In:
2018 Irreplaceable Sparks
2017 Saving For April 15th
2016 First Wish
2015 Tracing Shadows
2014 One Thing
2013 More Is Less
2012 The Screw-Up Gene
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The bread which you do not use is the bread of the hungry; the garment hanging in your wardrobe is the garment of him who is naked; the shoes that you do not wear are the shoes of the one who is barefoot; the money that you keep locked away is the money of the poor; the acts of charity that you do not perform are so many injustices that you commit.
  —  St. Basil the Great
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On This Day In:
2018 Irreplaceable Sparks
2017 Saving For April 15th
2016 First Wish
2015 Tracing Shadows
2014 One Thing
2013 More Is Less
2012 The Screw-Up Gene

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