ByHayden Mears, writer at
Film Critic for Starburst Magazine. Co-Founder of Deadbeat Critics.
Hayden Mears

As fall descends upon us, movie theaters turn low-key and start playing quieter, more thoughtful fare. Gone are the big, bloated blockbusters with lousy scripts and mindless destruction. Gone are the loud explosions from the screen next door that shake the theater you're in. Instead, the theater returns to a serene, pungent sanctuary that reeks of popcorn and giddy indulgence. However, with this batch of crowd-pleasing (or sleep-inducing) films comes a blockbuster hopeful in hiding, The Equalizer. Based on the television show of the same name, The Equalizer showcases a dark, brooding Denzel Washington whose steadfast beliefs in justice and righteousness drive him to track down and kill tattooed baddies with little to no difficulty. Unfortunately, director Antoine Fuqua's attempt to breathe new life into an old franchise likely won't attract the commercial or critical success he was probably hoping for (despite it performing fairly well at the box-office), partly because of timing but mostly because the movie really, really sucks.

Robert McCall (Denzel) prefers the mundane existence, favoring a day job at his local home appliance store over the life he used to lead. However, when a young, ambitious girl named Teri (a criminally underused Chloe Grace Moretz) finds herself in too deep with some seedy characters, McCall knows he can't just sit and watch. One by one, little by little, corpse by corpse, McCall works his way to the masterminds behind the operation-and his destiny as the Equalizer.

Like the movie's titular killer, The Equalizer moves at a calm, calculated pace, punctuating long periods of set-up with fleeting moments of startling brutality and finesse from Denzel. The movie lacks the fast-paced action some might have expected from such an alluring premise, instead opting to go with poorly shot fight scenes that begin and end as quickly as Denzel extends and retracts his fists.

When [The Equalizer](movie:4448) attempts to be serious, it's hilarious. When it half-heartedly tries to make us feel anything but our IQ's plummeting, it fails miserably. I'd much prefer the priceless closing shot of Denzel walking home with groceries while hard rock starts play over pretty much every other scene in the movie. You carry the shit out of those groceries, Denzel. And keep on being a badass the whole time you're doing it. Hell, one-hand them if you have to.

If watching Denzel Washington beat, batter, stab, electrocute, and own mobsters with terrifying efficiency is the only reason you're compelled to go see The Equalizer, you will not leave dissatisfied. However, if you're expecting for something a bit more fast-paced, grab a bag of Orville Redenbacher's and watch Cops on your couch for two hours.

Admittedly, some of the fight scenes do entertain, but they happen so quickly and usually in such dim locations that it's difficult to truly enjoy them.

I wanted to love this movie, but it fell too short and tried too hard.

1.5 of 5 stars


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