- by Jeff Beck
The Equalizer: A Bland Actioner That Offers Nothing New (Blu-ray)
“The Equalizer” reteams two-time Oscar winning actor Denzel Washington with “Training Day” director Antoine Fuqua for an update of the 80s television show of the same name. The film follows Robert McCall (Washington), a seemingly ordinary man who has a job at a home improvement store. On many nights he frequents a diner where he meets a young woman, Teri (Chloe Grace Moretz), who is stuck in a life of prostitution that she wants desperately to escape from. When she dares to hit a client that hit her, she is beaten ferociously, putting her in the hospital.
Once Robert learns of this, he intervenes by trying to buy her freedom from her Russian bosses, but finding them unwilling to take his offer, he decides to settle it differently… by killing them all. We quickly learn that mild-mannered Robert McCall is actually an expert at these kinds of things, with his work getting noticed by the ringleader behind the whole operation, a man by the name of Pushkin, who decides to hunt him down. Wasting no time, Pushkin dispatches his top enforcer, Teddy (Marton Csokas), to deal with the situation, leading to a very deadly game of cat and mouse.
It’s probably best to start off by stating that just because the same duo that helped bring us the great “Training Day” has gotten back together, it doesn’t mean that you should expect the same high level of quality that they delivered before, a fact that is most relatable when it comes to discussing their latest collaboration. The film does indeed benefit partly from their talents, particularly with Denzel Washington’s skillfully-controlled performance as a man trying to set things right, but even with all of their effort, “The Equalizer” is merely a bland actioner that does nothing to set itself apart from any other film in the genre. It tries to put forth a thread of a story (one man trying to take down a criminal empire), but it becomes very clear early on that this is nothing but a foundation for the myriad of fights and shootouts that are packed into its overstretched 132-minute runtime.
The action scenes themselves are done pretty well, giving us the chance to see Washington doing his own stunts (and taking down multiple villains in creative ways in the process), they’re just not nearly enough to sustain this long a film with such a flimsy storyline. Alas, many of Washington’s action films have suffered the same fate (“2 Guns,” “Safe House,” “The Book of Eli,” etc.), but in recent years, he at least has the thrilling “Unstoppable” under his belt to satisfy such needs, so my advice would be to grab a copy of that instead and skip his latest, which merely becomes another entry on the list of his disappointments.
“The Equalizer” comes to Blu-ray in a 2.40:1, 1080p High Definition transfer of decent quality. Much of the film is incredibly dark, so it becomes hard to judge the overall quality, but it should suffice to say that you’re able to see as much as is necessary. The 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is outstanding, giving you all sound elements at great levels and in fantastic quality. Overall, the film has been given fine treatment, allowing for a satisfactory experience.
Vengeance Mode with Denzel Washington and Antoine Fuqua
Inside The Equalizer
Denzel Washington: A Different Kind of Superhero
Equalizer Vision: Antoine Fuqua
One Man Army: Training and Fighting
Children of the Night
Home Mart: Taking Care of Business One Bolt at a Time
The bulk of these extras are very brief featurettes that cover a range of topics, including Denzel Washington, Antoine Fuqua, Chloe Grace Moretz, and behind the scenes looks at the making of the film. Unfortunately there isn’t a whole lot to be learned from most of them, though you at least get to learn a little about how Fuqua works in his featurette. A commentary would have been a very welcome addition, or at least featurettes that went a little more in-depth than what we get here. Sadly there just isn’t much to recommend in this batch.
Films like “The Equalizer” are a dime a dozen, doing little to distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack. Washington gives a fine performance, but even his amazing talents can’t help the drudgery of its bland screenplay and bloated 132-minute runtime. What it needed most desperately of all was a bit of originality to offset the multitude of action sequences suspended on a thread of a plot, for without that, it becomes nothing more than another forgettable action flick with very little to offer.
Available on Blu-ray and DVD starting tomorrow.
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