Posts Tagged ‘The Equalizer’

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.
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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Over the weekend I dropped into my (nearly) local Barnes And Nobel for some discount DVDs.  I was given a store card as a birthday present last weekend and it’s been burning a hole in my pocket ever since.
Among the DVDs I picked up was “The Book of Eli” (2009) starring Denzel Washington (good guy), Gary Oldman (bad guy) and Mila Kunis (good girl / sidekick).  The story is a blend of “Mad Max” and “The Equalizer” together with a twist of religious fervor thrown in for a happy ending.
Most of the movie is shot in a kind of “sepia tint” to give you that dusty post-apocalyptic old west feel.  I guess it kind of works, but there are also dark scenes which seem almost black and white, which also have the “brown and old” feel and I really wasn’t feeling it.   The action scenes were okay-ish, but one was in black and white silhouette (under an overpass in an otherwise bright sun-lit day), so there was no feeling of depth in the action.  The other major fight scene was in a bar and was long and complicated so they needed to do multiple shots from various angles to try to make it work.  Again, in totality it was a great action sequence, but it didn’t really blow you (me) away.  There are two other gun/fight scenes which are too over the top to be at all believable, so you just have to say, “It’s Hollywood”, and go with it.
As in almost all of these movies the hero is near indestructible until they have to pass the torch to the sidekick.  Then it’s sayonara hero.  This is the umpteenth (well, at least the third I’ve seen) movie where Gary Oldman plays the deranged bad guy (also “The Fifth Element” and “The Professional“).  It’s getting to the point where you’re sitting on his overacting portrayal and waiting for him to “get it” in the end.  Just too predictable.  Kunis is just okay and is best when sharing the screen with Denzel, but it’s hard to say if they’re good or if he’s just good enough to carry them both.
I have no problem recommending the film as an action film for an adult crowd.  Some of the fights are very violent / graphic and some of the language is offensive.  Not over the top for this type of movie, but not something I’d want younger children to see / hear.  The movie is rated “R”.  Final recommendation: a decent action flick with an interesting twist in the last five minutes, a moderate to strong recommendation if you’re into this genre.
On This Day In:
2014 Winning?
2013 Still Inventing
2012 Motivated
2011 Waiting In Line At Starbuck’s

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