One has to wonder why anyone would want to make a big screen adaptation of a mostly forgotten television show, whose original premise was pretty unspectacular in the first place. Adapting something as commonplace as The Equalizer, which can essentially be boiled down to a man that fights for the helpless, does mean that any cinematic translation is going to struggle to find its own USP. And truthfully, Antoine Fuqua’s film doesn’t quite manage to find a special ingredient to separate itself from the masses. However it is does make for an entertaining enough watch.
Denzel Washington plays Robert Mcall a soft spoken, unassuming man who generally likes to help out those in need. Spending most of his time either helping out a work colleague prepare for a job as a security guard or just reading books, he seems to live a quiet life. But when his kindness extends to trying to save a young prostitute (Chloë Grace Moretz) who is owned by Russian Mobsters he finds himself targeted by the gang. However it soon becomes clear that Robert is more than capable of looking out for himself.
The Equalizer heavily relies on old tropes but frankly, there aren’t even that many problems with the film. True it could have done with some of its run time shaved off, and the predilection for slo-mo at seemingly random intervals could have been toned down (it seems to take Denzel 10 minutes or so just to leave a room). However, there is likewise nothing about the film that is exceptionally good. The film awkwardly goes from a Taxi Driver-esque story of vigilantism to a more straight forward action-thriller. The relationship between Robert and Moretz’ Terri is fertile ground that could have helped differentiate the film. Unfortunately it’s dropped about 30 minutes in and doesn’t resurface again until a tagged on ending by which time it seems almost irrelevant. It’s almost as if the filmmakers didn’t know what direction to take with the material. In fact, for a film so concerned with identity, filled with dialogue about how you can be who you want to be, it is strange that The Equalizer’s chief problem is that it has no discernible personalty of it’s own.
The Equalizer (2014), directed by Antoine Fuqua, is distributed in UK cinemas by Sony Pictures, Certificate 15. Watch the trailer below: