The Equalizer

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Robin Clifford of Reeling Reviews
Robin Clifford 
The Equalizer
Laura Clifford of Reeling Reviews
Laura Clifford 

Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) had quit his mysterious past to find a quiet life working at the Home Mart in Boston. But, when he meets Teri (Chloe Grace Moretz), a girl owned by the Russian mob, he knows he must return to that past one more time. He is a man with a particular set of skills and he will use them as “The Equalizer.”

This is not the kind of film to take a date on. “The Equalizer,” based on the 1985 television series starring Edward Woodward and adapted for the big screen by Richard Wenk and directed by Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day” which earned Washington his Best Actor Oscar), is a high octane action thriller with an impressive body count of Chechen mobsters that rivals Liam Neeson’s in “Taken.” And, it will be compared with that 2008 revenge flick. But, there is a big difference between the two.

For the first 20 or so minutes of “The Equalizer” has us watching Robert go through his meticulous daily routine: dress, have breakfast, take the T to his 40 hour a week job, a regular visit to a local diner where he reads a book and drinks a cup of tea, then home again. The routine changes though when a young hooker in the diner, Teri (Chloe Grace Moretz), talks to him about the book he is reading. When they meet again, her face is badly bruised and she is ordered by her pimp, Slavi (David Meunier), to turn a trick she does not want to. The next thing McCall knows, Teri is lying in a local hospital brutally beaten and near death. This is where “The Equalizer” takes off.

Instead of a revenge-seeking dad trying to get his daughter back from the mob, Robert is a cross between an avenging angel and Robin Hood, but with a propensity for taking out the bad guys in inventive and varied ways. Once McCall unleashes his special skills, the film takes a relentless and uber-violent path as he steadily climbs the Chechen mob ladder to decimate the bad guys and make the world right. Robert McCall is an unstoppable human superhero and killing machine.

“The Equalizer” is not a stretch for its star, Washington, but he does inhabit his character and helps you suspend disbelief over his one-man army skills to face and conquer any number of bad guys. Martin Csokas as the Chechen mob kingpin’s chief henchman, Teddy, is Robert’s opposite and almost as relentless as his good-hearted opponent. Chloe Grace Moritz, as Teri, is only onscreen for the story setup and its epilogue – without much presence – and is third billed. That makes sense, I guess, since the rest of the cast are mainly the fodder for Robert’s vengeance.

Antoine Fuqua’s first-rate action direction and Richard Wenk’s taut script is well-complemented by lenser Mauro Fiore, who uses his cameras in imaginative ways to depict the violence that Robert unleashes. “The Equalizer” will have a particular hook for Boston area ticket-buyers with its opening shot of the Zachem Bridge and its use of many locales around the Hub, much like Martin Scorcese’s “The Departed (2006).” and Clint Eastwood’s “Mystic River (2003).” One thing I can say about the film, it is always exciting and never boring. I give it a B..

Laura did not see this film.
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