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article imageReview: ‘The Equalizer’ fails to offset expectations Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Sep 26, 2014 in Entertainment
Denzel Washington is ‘The Equalizer,’ a vigilante confined to a tiresome narrative in which he tries to eradicate crime from his Boston neighbourhood.
Vigilante justice comes in different forms. Revenge for oneself or a loved one is often a motivator. But not everyone has the skills or resources to enact their vengeance effectively or efficiently. At the centre of The Equalizer is a man with a mysterious past that has provided both, allowing him to become a defender of the innocent and punisher of the wicked.
Robert McCall's (Denzel Washington) co-workers try to guess what he did prior to working at the building supply store, but they're nowhere near the correct answer. He's very congenial and has a regular routine that includes late night visits to a local diner for tea and conversation with a young escort named Teri (Chloë Grace Moretz). When she's nearly killed by her Russian pimp (David Meunier), Robert begins to systematically rid the neighborhood of organized crime and the corrupt cops that work for them. This cleansing draws considerable attention from all the wrong people. As a result, Teddy (Marton Csokas ), a formidable adversary, is sent to eliminate the threat by any means necessary.
On paper this reads as a compelling, action-packed thriller starring actors well-versed in this style of narrative. On screen, though, it plays out astoundingly dully. Stretched to more than two hours, the sluggish progress of the script is mind-numbing. Watching McCall’s attention to detail (O.C.D.?) on repeat as it focuses on his perfectly made bed, spotless apartment and precisely placed napkin is tedious. Though Teri’s character seems integral to the plot, she’s only briefly permitted to hint at the potential McCall feels so inspired to protect. Then she’s gone. Likewise, Teddy is supposed to be notorious for his ruthless tactics, yet his character is quite selective in flexing his muscles.
Director Antoine Fuqua is known for slow-burning, intense films, but he misses the mark with this one. It's not just slow — it drags. The personalities are poorly developed, causing the story to seize up any time something violent is not occurring. The lack of engagement keeps the audience on the periphery for the entire picture with no one with which to connect. And perhaps that is the movie's greatest crime: indifference.
Your brain knows this film should be gripping, but what’s being conveyed by your eyes is not corresponding. The film's only saving grace is the cool action sequences in which McCall speedily disarms multiple assailants with his bare hands. But even they are weighed down by nonsensical closeups that unconvincingly elude to McCall's ability to assess any situation in seconds.
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Starring: Denzel Washington, Marton Csokas and Chloë Grace Moretz
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