With the comic book based films dominating the box office, the trend in Hollywood of turning old TV shows into films has died down the last decade or so. I remember back in the 90s, there were new movies based on TV shows coming out every year, Mission: Impossible, The Fugitive, The Brady Bunch Movie and The Saint were some examples. Of course that doesn’t mean Hollywood is going to stop turning old shows into movies, this latest one has been in development for a few years. Originally the late Tony Scott was attached to direct and Russell Crowe was set to star as the lead. After a couple of years of development, Crowe had to drop out to do other films, Denzel Washington was then cast but of course we all know what happened to Scott. The film was put on hiatus for a couple of years until Antoine Fuqua was hired to direct.
Set in Boston, the movie opens with the daily life of a mysterious man named Robert McCall (Washington), he works at store that’s very similar to Home Depot. We get to see his every day routines and who interacts with at work. He couldn’t sleep at night so he’d always go to a local diner next to his home. One night he strikes up a conversation with a young woman named Teri (Chloe Grace Moretz), right away we know that Teri is a working girl. But McCall is nice to her and never sees her as anything more than a kid who’s having a tough life. A few days later, McCall found out that Teri was rough up by her pimp named Slavi (David Meunier, cousin Johnny from Justified). He decided to pay Slavi a visit and offer him $9800 for Teri’s freedom. Slavi refused and as most of you probably seen in the trailer, McCall took out Slavi and his men easily. As it turns out Slavi was a one of the pawns of a ruthless Russian mobster named Pushkin (Vladimir Kulich), he’s one of the biggest crime lord in the world. Upon learning that one of pawns in the US was taken out, he sends his right-hand man Teddy (the always over top and cheesy Marton Csokas) to investigate and bring in who ever was responsible for the killings.
Not surprisingly, the movie was pretty much a by-the-number action thriller, nothing will surprise you except for maybe the over the top violence. Some might say it’s gratuitous but I think we are use to seeing watered down PG-13 action movies the last decade or so that we forgot how violent action movies were back in the 80s and 90s, so I wasn’t bothered by the violence.
Director Antoine Fuqua kept some elements from the TV show but wisely update many things for today’s audiences. I wasn’t a fan of his last flick; the dreadful and ugly looking Olympus Has Fallen. Here I thought he did a good job of balancing the drama and action, the movie was borderline of becoming too serious for its own good but I never thought it took itself way too serious like some other action pictures. He reunited with his cinematographer Mauro Fiore, they previously worked together on Training Day and Tears of the Sun. I thought the movie looked great, it has that gritty feel to it that reminded me of Scorsese’s gangster films and even though the movie was shot digitally, they still made it looked like it’s shot on film. I’ve mentioned many times, I can’t stand watching movies that looks like it’s shot with consumer camcorders. Fuqua also staged some cool and very brutal hand to combat sequences, the climatic fight between McCall and one of Teddy’s henchmen was quite bloody and painful to watch. For this kind of movie I wanted to see more shootouts and explosions but there were enough action that I wasn’t too disappointed. But for the climatic action sequence, I didn’t understand why Fuqua decided to copy Clint Eastwood’s Pale Rider. Seriously he must’ve watched that movie and thought “Hey I can do that for my movie and no one will probably know since Pale Rider came out almost 30 years ago!” Sorry Fuqua, film geeks like myself will always know.
This movie was a one-man show and again Washington shines as the action hero. McCall’s a mix of Creasy from Man on Fire, Travis from Taxi Driver and the Preacher from Pale Rider. He’s one-man army that can take down an army of assassins with no problems. As mentioned earlier, the always over-acting Marton Csokas does it again here as the antagonist Teddy. He wasn’t as cheesy as his character in XXX, kind of similar to his assassin turn in The Bourne Supremacy. Moretz only appeared in the movie briefly as the young hooker and then disappeared and she did okay for her part, kind of similar to Jodie Foster’s character in Taxi Driver, pretty sure she won’t get an Oscar like Foster did though.
As fan of the old TV show I was satisfied with the movie version but again it’s nothing new but just another by the number action thriller. If you’re a big fan of the TV show then you might have issues with some of the changes the movie made for today’s audiences but like Mission: Impossible, you can’t please everyone. It’s obvious that Sony hopes this one will be hit because the movie set up with sequels in mind. I say this was an entertaining action picture and good for a matinee or rental.
Have you seen The Equalizer? Well, what did you think?
29 thoughts on “FlixChatter Review: The Equalizer (2014)”
I haven’t seen it, but action thrillers seems to be Washington’s specialty and this one looks interesting. Nice review, Ted.
Thanks Cindy! Yeah Denzel seems to be on cruise control when it comes to action movies in last decade or so. Since he already won two Oscars, he probably just want to make as much money as possible while the studios are willing to cast him in big action movies.
I suspect you are right, and that leaves me a little sad. .
Hi Cindy, have you got a moment to check out my Recastahon post? Would love to hear your thoughts on it 😉
Ruth I was thinking about it and I think it’s a great idea. Then I spent a few moments researching black women in film, and it’s very sad how few there are. Contemporarily speaking, there’s only ten that come to mind. Go back two decades, and I can only think of Whoopi Goldberg. What film to cast her in in the 80s? Couldn’t think of a one except perhaps Steel Magnolias. It seemed inadequate. Let me try thinking some more. I have my first cup of coffee here, so I’ll go over and see what I can come up with 😉
I remain a big fan of the original Edward Woodard TV series. The old Cold Warhorse put out to pasture that wants to make up for the dark deeds of his past, putting those talents toward helping the helpless. So glad season two has come to disc. That said, I enjoyed the Hell out of this flick. I’m a fan of Fuqua’s style of violence (from The Replacement Killers to Olympus Has Fallen) and he works well with Mr. Washington. My favorite scene, though, had no physical violence. Robert McCall meeting the bad guy (who to this point had all of the showy, mustache-twirling moments of villainy in the film) at his table on his turf. His subsequent conversation flipped the dynamic (and threat) and really shows how great an actor Denzel is whether it’s a drama or a genre action film. Fine review, Ted.
Thanks Michael. I remember I watching the TV show when I very young and enjoyed quite a bit. The movie was kind of a different beast but enjoyable. As mentioned I’m not a fan of Olympus Has Fallen but I enjoyed other action flicks such as Training Day, Shooter and yes The Replacement Killers.
I love that scene that too!
Well, I’m afraid I did find the violence gratuitous. I saw the series and I sort of knew what to expect. But this was awful. At least Edward Woodward had style.
Like I said some will find the violence gratuitous and some won’t. I didn’t think it was that bad, I mean people tends to forget how violent action movies used to be.
Saw it this week as well and it was a very enjoyable action/drama/crime flick…..Denzel was as good as he always is…
Yeah that’s how I felt about the movie, nothing special, just enjoyable.
Not a fan of remakes to begin with.
The original series was superbly in and of its time. With decent on location cinematography. Not a lot of violence. (McCall originally eschewed guns). And character driven stories. Especially with Mickey Kostmayer (Criminally under rated Keith Szarabajka) and Control (Robert Lansing rocking a Trench Coat!) pulling the strings. Adding backup and cleaning up messes afterwards, A lot like CBS’s ‘Person of interest’.
I just wish Hollywood would stop screwing with my childhood, teenage and beyond memories!
While I tend to don’t care about some remakes, I don’t mind some of them. Heck some were quite better than the original version.
I remember watching the TV show version when I was very young and enjoyed it. While this movie was different, I found it quite enjoyable.
I enjoyed this a bit more than you. I thought it struck a great balance between the drama of the early scenes and the violence of the latter. Also thought it had a wicked sense of humor. While not the most original flick out there I had a ton of fun watching it.
Hey Wendell, I think had the movie went with a more lighter tone, it would’ve been much better. But I didn’t think it was overly serious like some other action pictures so I enjoyed it.
I liked this less than you did. I just found too much of it completely implausible.
I know what you mean Abby, towards the end of the movie, Denzel’s character became like The Terminator and I thought the scene in Russia was unnecessary.
Solid review Ted. Haven’t been able to get geared up for this one but Denzel is always enjoyable. Still may give it a look on DVD.
Thanks Keith. It’s a good rental and hopefully you’ll enjoy it.
Nice review, Ted. Never saw the show it’s based on, but based on its own merits, I thought this was a decent enough action flick, even if it doesn’t really do anything we haven’t seen many times before.
Thanks Chris. That’s exactly how I feel about the movie, nothing new but very entertaining.
Thanks for the review Ted! Y’know I’m glad I didn’t go to the screening as you know I’m not too fond of the violent content. I might rent this as I like Denzel but to be honest I’m not gonna be in a hurry to catch it. This type of violent thrillers just isn’t my cup of tea, but I’m glad this is far better than November Man! 😉
It’s miles better than that awful spy/action wannabe movie! LOL. But yeah I think you might not enjoy the graphic violent sequences in this movie. Fuqua seems to enjoy making these kind of violent action flicks.
Great review Ted! Look forward to seeing this one.
Thanks, you’ll enjoy it! The violence sequences were a bit over the top but again that’s how most action movies used to be back in the 80s and 90s. I still remember in Total Recall, Arnold used some poor guy as human shield while he shoots down his adversaries.
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The Equalizer is NOT Man on Fire. The Equalizer is NOT your typical action flick. Washington’s Robert McCall is not self-destructive or addicted. Though there are great choreographed fights, special effects and fantastic explosions, The Equalizer is more Bourne than Bond. Denzel Washington portrays this ex-CIA operative, who is content to live a meticulously simple life. Quietly contained, but with ever-building intensity, Washington turns in another stellar performance.
Chloe Grace Moretz, as the teenage prostitute, is a force…
Antoine Fuqua, the directer who brought us Training Day, which earned Denzel his Best Actor Oscar, helms this movie with a steady hand. His direction of the drama and the action blend seamlessly, drawing us into the complexity of this character-driven piece.
Robert McCall keeps to himself, content to live his ordinary life; he is every man’s man. But, his steady moral compass, and strong sense of justice lead him back into the fray. This character is not infallible, and he is not looking for trouble. He just wants what’s right.
This film is a superbly acted, exciting and violent ride! In the pursuit of justice, there will be blood. But this time, you’ll be rooting for the good guy, and I, a fifty years young woman, loved every minute of it!
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