Overall Grade: (A-)
While the trailer packaged this one as more of an action movie, the result was a nicely layered story-line that enabled the strong cast to shine through with excellent performances in a quality crime-drama.
“THE EQUALIZER”, based on the 1980’s television show, follows Robert McCall (Washington) a former CIA operative who has been reborn into a life of solitude as he tries to put his violent past behind him. Just as McCall seems to have a grip on his life he meets Teri (Moretz), a young girl who is being controlled by a violent faction of the Russian mob.
Unable to stand by and watch after Teri is nearly beaten to death, McCall will step in and make things right. He will do so regardless of the fact it will be putting him in the cross-hairs of an international crime ring and a cluster of corrupt cops on the mob payroll.
When I saw the trailer for this one I was expecting much more of a pure action movie, given much of it roamed around Washington’s gun-toting skill set. With many actors nearing their golden years such as Costner, Neeson and Brosnon still proving to be solid leads in action roles, I was intrigued to see what Washington could bring to the group.
I am usually a fan of most everything Washington does and this film turned out to be no different. While there were some moments of action, where Washington was more then capable, it didn’t take center stage. I was delighted to see this one rely more on a layered story-line and well written dialogue rather then simple explosive filled gun-play and cardboard cut-out characters.
The story ramped up quickly after setting the stage and manages to keep a nice flow through a longer than needed run-time. In the end while it was over two-hours, with the compelling story and the performances of Washington and Csokas, I never found myself bored at all. This film turned out to be clearly more of a crime-drama rather than action film and like any quality crime-drama, a detailed story-line can take longer to progress but the result is often worth the time when done properly.
The script enabled many tense moments and adrenaline filled sequences but did so in a subtle fashion that was polished to a gleaming shine as a result of Washington’s charming delivery. It gives you enough action to realize the main characters capability which allows you to use your imagination in other scenes were dialogue and story-development took over for repetitive action-sequences.
Washington was excellent in the lead and clearly carried the enjoyment of the film. His chemistry with Csokas who played the antagonist was also fantastic and their back-and-forth’s kept me on the edge of my seat as the two do a masterful dance of male bravado. Regardless of Washington’s usual perfect performance, this film would not have been as entertaining as it was without the performance given by Csokas who seemed to relish in the role of bad-guy.
Csokas was able to give this film a viable antagonist that was as eloquent as he was evil and his calm vicious delivery added many great moments to the film and added with Washington, there were not many moments that failed to deliver intrigue. Moretz and Harbour were also great in their side roles. Moretz made the most of her onscreen moments and easily pulled off the father/daughter vibe with Washington that was needed to fuel his motivation for the course of the film.
Overall “The Equalizer” was not what I expected but it was for the better. This one turned out to be a great crime-drama filled with many emotional moments, captivating performances and a cast that delivered a wide range of intriguing characters. Fans of Washington or the genre will not want to pass on this because watching Washington stylishly brute his way through the Russian mob, is easily must-see.