A & M at the Movies: The Equalizer Review 

By: Aidan Hall and Mark Hutslar


Stop me if you’ve seen this before: young girl with musical talent is held captive by European thugs and has to be saved by a man with a certain set of skill that’s just trying to get out of the game. I’m not saying this as a bad plot, but The Equalizer is far from original. We have our standard “retired” hero that has to take up his skills, yet again, when someone hurts someone he loves.  Still, it is how this overused plot is played out that makes this film interesting. We never find out what our main character, Bob (Denzel Washington), did before he decided to hang up his coat and honestly we don’t need to. This film assumes you’ve seen others like it, and instead presents you with a hard-hitting, over the top action flick that makes sure you’ll never be able to look at a Home Depot the same ever again.

     Now that’s not to say it doesn’t have its faults. The film focuses heavily on its symbolism, with the main character reading several classic books that relate to his role in the film. The supporting characters are stale at best with a Hispanic Paul Blart Mall Cop being the closest thing to a likable supporting character. The villains are all well done and the acting is top tier, however Denzel carries the film as a whole. No other actor in the film has the mix of expressions that Denzel has, and they seem to be very one note and not too far from Liam Neeson’s role in Taken. The film doesn’t touch on any new ground, but what’s nice is it doesn’t force us to watch the same clichés again and again. The main antagonist of the film isn’t even the biggest guy on the food chain, and when we standard locales and plot devices like a large ship owned by the villain, or the villain calling in new teams to handle the threat, they’re quickly dealt with off camera, which works very well.

     The Equalizer is nothing new. I won’t defend it beyond saying that it allows us to play with some worn out tropes, but what it does do is it never wastes your time. Once the slow beginning is over and the characters are built, they go and they never stop. Things aren’t overly gruesome all the time and over the top, but they’re certainly not art house friendly either. The Equalizer is a standard action flick done right. It’s no Training Day, but hey, it’s certainly better than Unstoppable.


In Antoine Fuqua’s The Equalizer, Denzel Washington plays McCall, a man who at first seems like a simple, hardworking man who buries himself in books. But when McCall meets Teri (Chloë Grace Moretz), a young girl under the control of Russian gangsters, it is revealed that he in fact, has a very unique set of skills; skills he uses to make himself a nightmare to the people who have wreaked havoc on Teri’s life for so long. In case the reference was not made clear, this movie is a variant of the movie Taken with Liam Neeson.

Still, it is not to say it was a well directed and visually stunning movie. All aspects of the movie were superbly done. From the script to the soundtrack, written by one Harry Gregson-Williams, it all blends well into an edge-of-your-seat, blood pumping, action/suspense movie that will keep you captivated to the very end. The acting was also well done. All actors easily fit into their roles and make the dialogue smooth and believable. Denzel shies away from his cocky, arrogant police role in Training Day into a cautious, cunning killer.

However, there are a few flaws. The ending leaves you a little disappointed in regard to resolving issues. There is also blatant symbolism the writers didn’t bother to conceal.

All in all, The Equalizer manages to amuse and entertain without really giving any moral lesson. However, it never really promised to give any. It is what was advertised in the preview: an action packed suspense film.

Positives :Denzel gives another very believable performance

Doesn’t feel like your standard, overdone action flick

Beautiful camera work

Negatives : 

Painfully obvious symbolism

Flat supporting characters

The beginning drags a bit