Sunday, 28 September 2014

Movie Review: The Equalizer

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"...Brick by brick, dollar by dollar, body by body, I promised I wouldn't go back to being that person...But for you, I'm going to make an exception..." This is what Denzel, being an absolute badass, says that to his enemy in a key scene of the film. Just when you think Liam Neeson was great as a lone-wolf action hero in Taken (2008), here comes Denzel Washington, upping the ante as McCall, the Equalizer. Yeah, I was completely sold by his performance.

Based on the 1985 TV series of the same name, Denzel stars as McCall, a retired man with a shady past, armed with a formidable set of skills like no other, chose to work at a Home Depot hardware store and lives a quiet, peaceful life. However, he soon discovers all the injustice that are happening around the neighbourhood and decides to take matters into his own hands to 'equalize' the situation by helping the helpless.

First and foremost, I couldn't provide any comparisons with the old TV series as I've never watched any of the episodes before. Similar to Taken (2008) or Man On Fire (2004), I don't deny the fact that the film has a preposterous premise. One guy against the entire mob? Seriously? However, despite its silliness, Denzel Washington - a two-time Academy Award winner with numerous bad-ass roles in the past such as Man on Fire (2004), The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009), The Book of Eli (2010) and Unstoppable (2010), managed to deliver a strong, convincing performance with some very catchy, powerful punchlines that actually makes the viewers believe that he's the guy who is really capable of taking down the entire Russian mafia on his own. He owns the character and makes the character come to life on screen.

Aside from that, we get to know him just from his expressions when his personal background is briefly mentioned in the film. Although the film relies on a few plot contrivances for it to work (typical issue for most action thrillers) and it also includes the much overused 'walk-away' explosion scene again, but Denzel just look so bad-ass whenever he fights on screen that I willing to overlook some of its flaws.

On the other hand, Marton Csokas did a great job in his portrayal of Teddy/Nikolai, the intimidating and menacing Russian mob fixer who's sent by the mob to deal with the situation. There's one particular disturbing scene in which he slowly circles a terror-stricken prostitute while comforting and reassuring her that it's going to be okay before leading her to an inevitable fate. Chloë Grace Moretz did a fine job as Teri as well. It's such a shame that she was taken off screen rather early in the film, only to reappear again in the final moments.

The film gives a satisfying climax and the action is well choreographed. Another notable mention is that the film contains a lot of bloody and gory violence. If some viewers feel uncomfortable with on-screen gruesome violent fights, then in that case it's probably not advisable to watch this film. However, please keep in mind that these people (the mafia characters the actors portrayed) are not considered as humans, but merciless scumbags. They treat women as nothing other than sexual objects for money, willing to kill anyone without hesitation or remorse, thinking they're high and mighty and forcibly exert authority and influence over others. In the film, McCall gave them a choice beforehand, but they choose to belittle him instead. So, violence was necessary and they've got exactly what they deserve. To be honest, I don't feel sorry for them at all.

Overall, the film exceeds all my expectations. The film delivers, in spades. I expect Denzel Washington to kick some criminal ass and I've gotten more than I bargained for. Gruesome and brutal, but highly rewarding. Revenge is a dish best served cold. Highly recommended! 

Rating: 8.5/10

"One day someone does something unspeakable to someone you hardly knew, so you do something about it because no one else is going to...Because you can." 

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