Director: Antoine Fuqua.
Fuqua and Washington team up to take on their version of the iconic, titular 80’s TV series that starred Edward Woodward as The Equalizer. An ex-british intelligence agent who helps out clients when they end up with unsavoury, injustice. Obviously tweaked to fit the Boston location, Washington takes on the role of McCall bearing little resemblance to the original character.
We’ve seen Washington go badass before and we’ve seen him in a similar position in Tony Scott’s remake of Man on Fire. But let’s be clear before we draw parallels. This is not a revenge movie some might expect. He’s more of a vigilante here working off the principle of “Evil prevails when good men do nothing.”
Unlike his character in Man of Fire, McCall is a man of routine, logic and is incredibly methodical. A creature of habit that’s trying to lead a peaceful life until he’s presented with an almost spiritual dilemma. He’s a very capable man and he realises that if he selfishly stands by, he’ll witness people around him fall victim to crime and corruption. What Man on Fire does share is the obvious looks and the same ruthless and violent precision.
It’s an origin movie, explaining more about how McCall turns to equalising the odds as oppose to his dark and obvious dangerous past. We only get hints and a fair idea of his character from his actions and demeanour. He’s a man that knows violence and is very versed in the art using of it. But he’s an unassuming and underestimated character that knows his place who delivers righteous justice giving each adversary a second chance to do the right thing. Maybe this is McCall’s own second chance, trying to right the wrongs of his own past.
Washington fits the part perfectly switching from calm, polite and often encouraging gentleman to a calm, lethal instrument of death. He comes across as quite a simple living man but there’s something very calculating brimming under his persona. Then there’s his opposite, Csokas playing the equally ferocious antagonist, Teddy. A mystery himself with his own dark history sent by a Russian oligarch to investigate McCall’s occurrences. Csokas does a grand job of standing up to McCall, posing a threat in both strategic and physical strength.
Fuqua does a very stylish and slick action piece with a lot of sweeping shots but it’s his dissection of a scene before the violence that unfolds that’s impressive. It displays the thought process McCall goes through seconds before his calm yet brutal fury is unleashed. It’s a technique similar to what Guy Ritchie uses in his Sherlock Holmes and I hope this becomes a trademark of McCall.
The action is brutal, sharp and fast with great choreographed scenes but some bits are smartly left to the viewer’s imagination. The violence is amplified by the choice of weaponry McCall uses, moving the film away from being a shooter flick. Especially the gruesome climax that is more like an x-rated Home Alone movie.
Harry Gregson-Williams does a suitable score and is of his usual style with these genre of movie, reminding me very much of his score on Spy Game. But I was a little disappointed that he didn’t or couldn’t rework Stewart Copeland’s original and iconic Equalizer theme. There’s some good choices of music too with tracks from Zack Hemsey, Sia and Eminem and a Moby song that was also used in Michael Mann’s Heat.
It’s a good, strong action thriller that has breathed life into an intrigue vigilante hero and would welcome a sequel or better still, maybe a new TV series.
One question I have for Fuqua is what are all the time pieces about? Am I missing a significant reference here? As a lot of scenes start with a clock placed perfectly in focus.
Running Time: 9
The Cast: 9
Job Description: 10
The Extra Bonus Point: 0