Robert McCall lives alone in a dimly lit apartment that is stocked with the bare necessities needed for a very ordinary, working class life. He gets up in the morning, eats his breakfast, goes to work, comes back home and calls it a day after going out for dinner. The daily routine is as constant, and as mundane, is it sounds. He never says it, but you can tell that it wasn’t always like this for McCall – there’s something about the way he walks, talks and reacts to his surroundings – clearly, he’s not really the ordinary citizen he so wants to be.

The Equalizer

B-
Rave and Quality 16
Columbia Pictures

This much is evident. Director Antoine Fuqua (“White House Down”) doesn’t waste time in setting the premise for his latest film, “The Equalizer”, starring Denzel Washington (“Flight”). It’s clear that McCall is going to bring the house down by flipping his shit at some point in the movie; the question is – is the sudden switch going to be impactful enough, and can it sustain itself throughout the length of the movie?

McCall is forced to spring back into action when a newly formed acquaintance of his, child prostitute Teri (Chloe Grace Moretz, “Carrie”) is abducted and beaten up by her employers. He can’t stand by, he has to do something, because “You gotta be who you are in this world, right?” So about a good third of the way into the movie, he finally does what you’ve been waiting for him to do – beat the crap out of five Russian pimps in 19 seconds. The scene is great, and the switch from an unassuming working class citizen to a trained agent who executes with metronomic efficiency, although predictable, is wonderfully executed. McCall starts a war with the Russian mafia, and there’s no turning back.

What this film needs more than anything is a worthy villain to battle against McCall. Washington cuts an imposing figure even when he’s dressed in bland attire and is convincing as both the good-guy and the ruthless special agent. For a brief period of time, Fuqua makes it seem as if he’s given you a villain that can really give McCall a tough time. Teddy (standard assassin name) (Marton Csokas, “Noah”) is the hit man assigned to take out McCall and he really seems like he could go toe-to-toe with our hero. Even as he makes his first appearance, you can picture an incredible hand-to-hand combat scene between the two where you honestly cannot tell which way it might go. However, there’s a lot of foreplay and no real action. Fuqua chooses a very, very long buildup to the climax scene and just doesn’t deliver when it matters. There’s a good bit of tension between hero and villain, but that tension is never really let out in an explosive manner. It just kind of fizzles out, and then the movie ends.

“The Equalizer” isn’t a bad film but any means, but it just isn’t a very good one either. The film doesn’t build on its solid, albeit slow start, and that’s where it breaks down. Fuqua commits the fatal flow of not setting up the film to anything worthy of the set up itself. It’s as if you’ve been waiting for a really long time for your late night/early morning meal at Pizza House. You’ve had a great night, you’re ready for some food but when it comes in, you realize they forgot the cheese. You really, really needed that, and it sucks that you didn’t get it.

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