Review of "The Equalizer (DVD)"

published 16/01/2015 | crazyomon
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Pro Washington's performance, direction and cinematography
Cons plot and characters are not properly developed
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"a satisfying one-time watch..."

The Equalizer (DVD)

The Equalizer (DVD)

Directed by Antoine Fuqua
Written by Richard Wenk

Denzel Washington as Robert McCall
Marton Csokas as Teddy


It is never clearly told in the film why Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) decides to wipe off the crime in the city. He suddenly goes on challenging police forces, burglars and crime lords – especially those who had hurt someone he knew or cared about – and, at the same time, keeping his identity safe. It does sound familiar, doesn’t it? Yes, batman does the same. There is one more thing common between batman and Robert: They both function at night. The major difference, though, is that batman has vowed not to kill anybody whereas Robert goes off killing multiple persons at a time.

The director, Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day” and “Olympus Has Fallen”), has left it to us to solve the riddle present in the first line of this review. The problem is that the story and the characters in the film are very much underdeveloped. Just in matter of seconds, both the story and the characters become too violent and aggressive, and we don’t get any hint of the cause that is creating that mayhem. There is a strong reason behind the existence and success of the TV-series of the same name and concept and it is: It provides enough time to develop the characters and the plot and then it brings us the interest and thrill the film failed to deliver.

There is a Mark Twain’s quote in the starting of the film which says, “The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you know why.” But does the film perform in accordance with that quote? Not as we had expected it to. For the first thirty-minutes, the film proceeds like a slow and smooth classic with an equivalently soothing background score, and the moment it gains some pace, it turns into something very non-believable. And that is not because of the shocking and maniac transformation of the protagonist, it is because of the fact that the film loses its charm, and not slightly.

The moment Robert transforms, interesting characters start pouring into the film. The most important one is Teddy (Marton Csokas), a Russian detective who comes to the USA in search of a man who has killed some highly rich Russian-American bar-runners and girls-suppliers. Teddy is not at the highest position in his area but he definitely makes us believe into it. Washington overplayed a little the gangster in “Training Day” but it was more fascinating that way, and here Csokas does the same but he is unable to impress us, and, in fact, looks very idiotic in some scenes. The people he brings with him to guard him and for some other reasons are not-at-all even slightly less interesting than himself. One of them is the envious Instagram sensation Dan Bilzerian, and he gets the camera on him for a few seconds

The movie is not crap, though it had enough elements to turn it into one. The saviors are Denzel Washington, Antoine Fuqua and Mauro Fiore (the cinematographer). We were sure of some great work from Washington and Fiore and neither of them gave us a chance to object. It is the director who surprised us. Fuqua doesn’t have many great movies in his basket, but when it comes to the direction of this film, he did a very impressive job. He didn’t have a great plot in his hands and if he had, he certainly would have turned the film into the bests of 2014.

Fuqua didn’t have many choices to fill the moments when the film falters. But again, he didn’t have a plot of his caliber in his hands. Richard Wenk (known mostly for writing action movies like “The Mechanic” and “The Expendavles”) has penned the screenplay and he has done it thinking it to be another one of those action films. There are few subtle and generous scenes in the film at different points and those are the best scenes in the film undoubtedly. The reason is, Fuqua has directed those scenes with complete mastery. The sets and the surroundings of the characters in the film are also very adequate in accordance to the scenes. And in a few scenes, especially the last one, they become the most important things at the moment.

The most memorable thing in the whole film is its suspenseful and mesmerizing cinematography. Mauro Fiore dazzled us with his breathtaking camerawork in “Avatar”, and went on winning that year’s Academy Award for Best Cinematographer. The innovative thing I found in his camerawork in ”The Equalizer” is that whenever Robert wants to check his surroundings, the camera goes into his eyeballs and gives us the reflection of things around him. To be honest, that was freaking cool. This year, there are just too many films with outstanding cinematography in them like “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and “Ida”. Also, the fact that the movie was not a critical success will also affect Fiore’s chances of getting an Oscar nomination. His work was superb though.

Denzel Washington has played his character, yet another time, beautifully. He makes us believe into his character. At first an insomniac, classic-books reader at nights and then the maniac killer, there is not even a single moment when Washington blinks more than natural. There are many points in the film where his character changes skin at once and it does seem deliberate and very non-believable. This is the fault of the screenwriter, again. Washington’s character is not properly developed. There are many shades missing from Robert McCall. Washington’s performance helps his character a little and this is clearly seen when you see Csokas’s Teddy. Teddy’s character has a single shade and Csokas doesn’t even try to provide it another. He plays Teddy with a constant and never ending angry-face. After some time, Teddy becomes intolerable, not because of the type of the character but because of Csokas’s single-layered performance.

The film had caliber and a chance of making it big but the underdeveloped plot and characters took it away. In the beginning, every event and step in the film signals something even better afterwards and it follows for half-an-hour. Robert finding inspiration for doing something valuable with his life and his hope of sleeping again properly, all such things give you a hint of something special to follow but you’ll be disappointed. The end is quite satisfying though. And that is one more impressive in the film. If the ending had been messy like the film after the first half-hour, I would’ve given it a negative rating. Moreover, it doesn’t feel like wasting my two-hours when I think about the film now. I would recommend a one-time watch.

MY RATING: 2.5/4

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Comments on this review

  • euphie published 31/01/2015
    vh :o)
  • euphie published 31/01/2015
    vh :o)
  • ryeb published 17/01/2015
    Good review.
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Product Information : The Equalizer (DVD)

Manufacturer's product description

Product Details

EAN: 5051159251657

Actor(s) (Last name, First name): Denzel Washington; Chloe Grace Moretz

Director(s) (Last name, First name): Antoine Fuqua

DVD Region: DVD

Classification: 18 years and over

Production Year: 2014

Title: E


Listed on Ciao since: 13/11/2014