release date: 26 September 2014
run time: 131 mins
considered: Action, Crime, Thriller
director: Antoine Fuqua
starring: Denzel Washington, Marton Csokas, Chloe Grace Moretz, David Harbour, Haley Bennett, Pill Pullman, Melissa Leo, David Meunier, Johnny Skourtis, Alex Veadov, Vladimir Kulich, E. Roger Mitchell, James Wilcox, Mike O’Dea, Anastasia Sanidopoulos Mousis
movie summary: Boston is a famous city, not just in the United States but across the globe. It is one of the birth places of the United States as well as serving at the heart and soul of New England. Despite its rich history, Boston is a dark place where dirty deeds happen around every corner and in every shadow. There are some parts of Boston you just wouldn’t want to be caught walking alone at night, but if you keep your nose clean and stay out of trouble then trouble won’t find you.
Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) is just a regular guy who works at the local hardware store. He is alone in life, reads books everyday, and goes out to the local diner at 2 am to enjoy a cup of tea. He goes to the same 24/7 diner every night and makes small talk with a beautiful young girl named Teri (Chloe Grace Moretz). The two become friends through their chats and casual walks home at 3am. During one of those walks, a car stops and Teri’s boss jumps out and assaults her in front of Robert. Over the next few nights Teri is nowhere to be seen at the diner, so Robert begins to question what happen to her. He later learns that she was nearly beaten to death and in a ICU unit. While in the hospital Robert runs into one of Teri’s friends who explains that their boss, a Russian mobster named Slavi (David Meunier), is the one who beat her for getting smart with a customer.
Upset at the way his friend was treated, Robert sits at home planning how to get revenge. He has spent his whole life working deep under cover for different government agencies and is a trained killer. After deciding his course of attack, Robert heads over to the Russian restaurant where Slavi runs his operations. Robert decides to offer Slavi $9800 for Teri’s freedom but his crew just laughs at his offering and think it will be best that he leaves. After giving the Russians to rethink his offer, Robert checks his watch and proceeds to kill everyone in the room within 19 seconds.
When Vladimir Pushkin (Vladimir Kulich) learns that his crew has been murdered in cold blood, in their own restaurant, he dispatches his personal henchman to get answers. When Russian trained assassin Teddy (Marton Csokas) reaches Boston he begins to question other gangs. He doesn’t get the answers he’s looking for so he employs a few dirty cops to find out who was in the club that night why they were there. Teddy spends the afternoons driving around the city roughing up rival gang members, before spending the nights looking at video surveillance of the club. One night he spots Robert in the pictures and wonders why he went through so much trouble to hide his face for the cameras. When a background check shows that Robert’s life is too clean, Teddy pays him a visit to his house to have a face to face meeting to size up his new target.
Robert realizes that Teddy senses he isn’t who he says he is, so begins to plan his next attack to kill Pushkin’s men and then Teddy himself. Now that Teddy knows that Robert is just like him, they play a game of cat and mouse for a few days. Teddy is always a step behind while Robert has blown apart many of Pushkin’s operations on top of killing more of his men and his dirty cops. Teddy ups the stakes of the game by kidnapping Robert’s co-workers at the hardware store. When Robert arranges a meeting with Teddy to end everything once and for, both trained assassins agree to meet at the hardware to engage an epic gun/tool battle to see who is the better killer.
my thoughts: There were few things that I loved about this movie. The first thing was the film was shot in Boston. I may be a little bias here but Boston has become known as a ruthless place to cross the wrong people. This movie is similar to The Town, in terms of violence and local references, but instead of local people going after local things, this story features a local guy going after an international mobster. Boston has always been a blue-collar town, a place where people work really hard for their money and then enjoy their down time at the game or the bar. It’s a place where most people keep to themselves but sometimes there’s always that person who can’t stand to see bad things happen to good people and wants to do something about it.
The next best thing about this movie is Denzel Washington. He is amazing in this movie and brings a unique prospective to an overly used secret assassin role. Hollywood continues to create movies with different leads that do the same exact job as the guy before him. Can you imagine if Denzel got together with Liam Neeson, Matt Damon, Tom Cruise, Jeremy Reiner, and Daniel Craig? If those guys actually made a movie about their training exercises and early career years that would be highly explosive and entertaining. There would be no world terrorists because this group of guys who kill anyone who stepped out of line or didn’t provide enough information for the case. The best part of Denzel’s role as a secret assassin is he is just an ordinary guy who works at the hardware store during the day and then switches to be tactic killer armed with power tools by night. One can tell the life he has lived because everything is neat and organized at this house, he times every move he makes, and he does everything in a particular order. I know now anytime I see someone sitting in a coffee shop with a book on the edge of the table, he may be a secret assassin. Also I may never look at the people who work at Home Depot, Lowe’s, or Home Hardware the same away again. They could know how to use a nail gun and put me down, much like Robert McCall could. His character may use a bunch of guns to add to his body count, but when the epic battle goes down at the store, he will use any tool that is within arms length to survive.
The final thing that I enjoyed about this movie was Chloe Grace Moretz. This young Hollywood star is not afraid to take on any role and make it appear as real as possible. She plays a young girl who got into the long line of business and now fears for her life. She dresses and asks the part like she was really working in that line of work. Her parts of limited in the film, but it’s character that sets Denzel’s character out on a mission for revenge and to disable the Boston Russian Mafia. Without her life tail spinning out of control, McCall would have never been given the opportunity to come back out of retirement.
my final thoughts: I watched A Walk Among the Tombstones last week and expected a lot of violence and non-stop action but got the exact opposite. My fear heading into this was that The Equalizer could have been the same kind of story. Instead the slow parts of this story were used to build up the secret killer skills of Robert McCall, the guy who has all capabilities to bring everything crashing down. If you head into the film dreading the slow parts, and manage to make it to the end, you will be handsomely rewarded with an epic fight that involves nail guns, propane torches, and machine guns. Sure the same secret assassin story may be a bit boring by now, but Denzel Washington shines in this film and is one you shouldn’t miss.
my star rating: 8 out 10
rottentomatoes.com: 60% out 100%
rogerebert.com: 3 out 4
2 thoughts on “The Equalizer (2014)”
Good review Ryan. It’s another one of Denzel’s goofy movies, but it’s one was surprisingly compelling. If only because of him, most of the times.
Thanks again Dan. I wouldn’t consider it goofy, except the fact that this one quiet guy has super secret assasin skills. Which is always the case in these type of movies. I agree that if someone else was cast in this role this movie might not have worked as well as it did.