A review by Brenda Daniels
I was drawn to this film because of its star actor, Denzel Washington. An excellent performer, Washington has brought depth to many roles in which I have previously seen him, from The Hurricane to the more recent Flight. In The Equalizer Washington does not disappoint, although the movie itself is a little too violent for my taste.
In The Equalizer Washington plays Robert McCall, a mild-mannered man who lives alone and works in a hardware store. He enjoys helping people, offering them syrupy motivations to be “whoever they want to be”. But there’s more to McCall than meets the eyes.
He times himself with military precision while getting dressed in the morning and spends sleepless nights at a diner reading classic books. Here he meets Teri (Chloë Grace Moretz), a Russian prostitute. McCall’s relationship with Teri seems much like the encouraging ones he has with others.
But his helpfulness takes a turn for the sinister when Teri is severely beaten by her Russian pimps. In a scene reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes A Game of Shadows in which we see Holmes’s thought process before launching into a calculated attack on his enemies, McCall takes vengeance on Teri’s assailants with, well, military precision. It is at this point that we realise that McCall is not the mild-mannered hardware store worker he appears to be.
He is a former CIA agent who, inspired by Teri, springs to the defense of the defenseless, exacting a kind of righteous revenge on their behalf.
If it wasn’t for Washington’s complex and sympathetic treatment of McCall’s character, The Equalizer might be just another violent revenge offering. It isn’t. As a viewer I found myself siding with the intelligent, just efficient and empathetic McCall. And wholeheartedly against the Russian antagonists (although the latter was easy to do because of overdone stereotyping).
Close-ups of McCall’s killings are tough to watch, but the story is gripping, the action moves at a good pace, and the ending brings a satisfying conclusion to the plot.
The Equalizer opens at Ster-Kinekor, Nu Metro, Movies@ and CineCentre theatres, countrywide in South Africa, including IMAX, on Friday 26 September.