'Equalizer' brings surprises
Was anyone out there clamoring for a remake of "The Equalizer"?
Heck, are any fans of "The Equalizer" even still alive?
Regardless, for one of the most head scratching choices for a TV adaptation in recent memory Honestly, what's next? Vin Diesel in a gritty reboot of "The Father Dowling Mysteries"? "The Equalizer" is immensely appealing and so much more entertaining than you'd expect.
For you whippersnappers out there, "The Equalizer" ran from 1985 89 on CBS and followed Robert McCall, a retired intelligence agent who went to extreme lengths to help people in need.
Your great grandparents' favorite show, "The Equalizer" was every recent Liam Neeson movie rolled into one. McCall was a one man "Expendables," and he helped pave the way for this new era of codger carnage.
Aside from McCall's advanced age, though, there was nothing particularly remarkable about "The Equalizer." At least nothing that should have required the movie's producers to obtain the rights to the title. He helps a co worker (Johnny Skourtis) exercise and watch what he eats no salty snacks for you, Ralphie! so he can make it as one of the store's security guards. He's full of positive affirmations "Doubt kills," "I think you can be anything you wanna be" like a series of Successories posters sprung to life. He even plays a mean right field for the Home Mart softball team.
McCall spends his downtime at the Bridge Diner, sitting at the same table, meticulously arranging his silverware and always with his own tea bag carefully wrapped in a napkin. A voracious reader, he's on No. 91 on the list of the 100 books everyone should read, which leads to some pretty obvious "The Old Man and the Sea" foreshadowing.
He's struck up a casual acquaintanceship with another regular, a teenage prostitute (Chloe Grace Moretz), and chastises her for her love of refined sugars. You know, as opposed to counseling her about the more immediate dangers of being a teenage prostitute.
After she misses a night at the diner, McCall finds her beaten to a pulp in intensive care. He tries to buy her freedom, but when her shiny suited Russian pimp ("Justified's" David Meunier) refuses, McCall draws upon his particular set of skills skills acquired during a portion of his life he vowed not to revisit and leaves behind a pile of bodies.
Before long, McCall goes full blown vigilante, tracking down a robber and smacking around a couple of cops who'd been shaking down local business owners for protection money. This version of McCall is nothing short of a superhero in a sensible pair of New Balance sneakers.
But his decimation of those Russian mobsters causes the leader of their crime syndicate to call in Teddy (Marton Csokas), the fixer. Or, in this case, The Fixerizer. McCall is soon drawn into an ever escalating war that culminates in a final act that plays out like a particularly gruesome take on "Home Alone."
Clocking in at 132 minutes, "The Equalizer" is at least 15 minutes too long. But director Fuqua keeps things tighter than they could have been by picking up certain scenes in the aftermath of McCall's equalizing.
Having collaborated on Washington's Oscar winning turn in "Training Day," it's safe to say that Fuqua knows how to bring out the best in his star. And, for the most part, he just lets Denzel be Denzel. Whether he's dancing about and pretending to have been a Pip or just coasting on his charm, McCall is as enjoyable as Washington has been onscreen in years.
Even when "The Equalizer" is in the worst throes of its style over substance mindlessness, you'll be hard pressed to wipe the grin off your face. Washington is so charismatic, you'll likely even forgive everyone involved for his hackneyed walking away from an explosion in slow motion scene.
If anything, though, Washington is too good. The dance between McCall and Teddy should play out as a game of cat and more terrifying cat. But McCall is always at least several steps ahead, able to see his adversaries coming from down the block. And around the corner.
It's not really even fair.Despite the bad guys' giant assault rifles and menacing dispositions not to mention some head tattoo and facial hair combinations that no sane person would ever attempt McCall is rarely challenged. But maybe they're saving that for the next installment.
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