Having collaborated to stunning effect in the 2001 endeavour Training Day, at long last director Antoine Fuquar has again teamed up with Denzel Washington, this time to bring hit 1980s TV series The Equalizer to the big screen. However any such comparisons to the triumphant Training Day will seem wide of the mark.
Washington plays Robert McCall, a widow seeking a quiet life, working at a local hardware establishment. However when he meets the troubled young prostitute Teri (Chloë Grace Moretz), he is drawn wildly back into a former life, as he becomes obsessed with avenging her tormentors; the Russian gangsters who physically abuse her. However after single-handedly killing the perpetrators, McCall then has the unhinged killer Teddy (Martin Csokas) on his case.
This cliched, contrived thriller ticks off all the boxes when remaining conventional of the genre at hand, and yet avoids becoming a complete disaster thanks to the credentials of our leading man. There’s a comfortability about Washington, you feel at ease in his presence, as he blends a charisma and wit with a healthy degree of authority, as despite his age now, he still earns that trust and respect of the viewer, particularly in moments of conflict. You believe he can walk into a room and kill four men, all younger, and with more guile than himself. His age actually informs the narrative effectively in this production, as it gives him a sense of putting right a lot of wrongs for the last time, and the finality and desperation which derives form that, makes for a more callous and unforgiving character, with nothing left to lose.
Thankfully on this occasion, Washington is matched by an array of strong villains – though sadly by the time we reach the climatic final stages, we’ve lost our faith – and therefore our interest – in Fuquar’s latest production. Thanks to a plethora of ridiculous, banal sequences, this film remains to archetypal and suffers accordingly. A shame, because when remaining so annoying faithful to the tropes of the genre, you’d at least expect a film that is short, sweet and engaging – but not in this instance. Oh no, this bad boy is over two hours long – and you feel every single minute.