2014, Columbia Pictures/LStar Capital/Village Roadshaw Pictures
Michael Sloan (original series)
Richard Lindheim (original series)
Richard Wenk (screenplay)
Denzel Washington (Robert McCall)
Martin Csokas (Teddy)
Chloe Grace Moretz (Alina)
Melissa Leo (Susan Plummer)
Bill Pullman (Brian Plummer)
Johnny Skourtis (Ralphie)
Haley Bennett (Mandy)
David Harbour (Masters)
Vladimir Kulich (Pushkin)
David Meunier (Slavi)
Alex Veadov (Tevi)
The 1980’s series about a former operative turned helper gets a “bloody marvelous” film adaptation driven by the performance of one Denzel Washington.
Robert McCall is a worker at the local Home Mart. He is friends with everyone he works with and even helps co-worker Ralphie get in shape to get his dream job of being the store’s head security guard. He spends his late night at the local diner where he reads and talks with Teri, a teen hooker who feels like she has no life. However, upon learning of her real name being Alina, Robert forms a bond with the young girl.
When Alina is beaten badly by her pimp, Slavi, McCall decides to get involved. Learning the location of Slavi and his men, he offers $9800 for her freedom. When the pimp refuses, McCall is revealed to have survival skills. He kills Slavi and his men in less than thirty seconds. Word has gotten out to Vladimir Pushkin, a notorious Russian mobster who is Slavi’s boss. Pushkin sends his top enforcer, Teddy, to find out who McCall is. Meanwhile, Teddy, who has been working in cahoots with corrupt police officers, wages war and hatches a plan to bait McCall. Now, McCall, a former covert operative, must go back on a promise to save those he cares about.
Michael Sloan is best known for creating two well-known shows in the 1980s. One of those is the 1984 martial arts series The Master and the other is a 1985-1989 series about a former covert operative who decides to use his skills to help those in need. For four seasons, the late Edward Woodward played Robert McCall, the ex-agent turned vigilante to help those in need.
For this film adaptation, in which Sloan co-produced, Denzel Washington delivers one of his best performances as the new Robert McCall, who has left the past and moves on. However, one can tell he still has a few demons in him with some of his habits, including his late nights at the local diner. However, this proves to be very important as the main focus of the film is that of his bond with the teen hooker Alina, played in an extended cameo by Chloe Grace Moretz.
Richard Wenk’s script is well done as it doesn’t really play straight through. Yes, the main story of McCall taking on the Russian mob is there. However, there are some small twists that could have been done as a separate episode of the original show. In other words, it is as if we are watching an interconnection of two, possibly three episodes of the series and it all works out well. Not only does Washington drive the film as McCall, but Martin Csokas gives a near scene-stealing performance as Teddy, the lead enforcer of big bad mob boss Pushkin.
Another surprising factor of the film is the action sequences. Washington had learned martial arts under Hollywood stunt legend Jeff Imada for The Book of Eli. Here, Washington does some nice close quarter combat sequences with knives and anything else he can get his hands on. The finale, which is set in the Home Mart, an obvious rip-off of Home Depot, gives Washington a chance to use anything by any means necessary and done quite nicely and yes, it does get a little bloody at times. Rather, it gets quite bloody.
The Equalizer is definitely a cut above the rest when it comes to reboots of famous television series. Denzel Washington definitely lives up to Edward Woodward’s legacy in the titular role and kicks it up a major notch! Definitely worth buying.
WFG RATING: A+