|'It's at best disappointing and at worst downright depressing that a previously promising Action/Thriller practitioner, who promised to take the genre in a better direction, is now stuck doing fairly cookie-cutter fayre.'|
The impossibly long, passably satisfying The Equalizer is not the film you are looking for should you be pining for a return to the likes of Man On Fire for Denzel Washington. Whilst Liam Neeson may be mining a relatively rich (or at least popular) vein of form as both an ageing action star and various ageing action men of fiction, Denzel here does not improve on his Action heyday. The Equalizer may have some of the familiar welcome beats, but the star looks less convinced with this material than he did ten years ago and, more importantly, director Antoine Fuqua is no Tony Scott on top form.
Fuqua is an interesting case worth considering. Like a smattering of contemporaries whose past films have been lauded to high levels (Jason Reitman springs to mind), Fuqua is now officially in something of a rut. The Equalizer may not be all bad, but it is certainly a world away from Oscar-winning Training Day, which whilst not an absolute classic itself is at least more ambitious than this, or previous recent Fuqua offerings Brooklyn's Finest and Shooter. It's at best disappointing and at worst downright depressing that a previously promising Action/Thriller practitioner, who promised to take the genre in a better direction, is now stuck doing fairly cookie-cutter fayre.
In this particular offering, Washington populates the familiar role of irritated old man with 'a particular set of skills', a conceit passed down from at least the height of the Western genre on to, perhaps for a time, Mel Gibson. It now resides with Washington, Neeson and a smattering of others, with Gibson waiting in the wings for any chance at having another go. Robert McCall (Washington) has nothing to offer beyond any of the previous role incumbents, apart from perhaps a bizarrely outlandish background tale which invites late cameos from Bill Pullman and Melissa Leo. The stock bad guys are Russian. The stock girl in distress: Chloë Grace Moretz, a prostitute who frequents McCall's favourite late night cafe.
Predictably enough from here, Washington gets to show off some of his skills, which in the latter half of the film involve an outstanding knowledge of DIY paraphernalia and what it can do to the human body. McCall is disappointingly like every Washington action hero going; articulate, quiet, and as likeable as he is detached. Marton Csokas is a fairly useless villainous foil.
It would be nice to give the film a pass for Denzel doing what he does, and there are far worse ways to spend a Friday night, but in all honesty there's simultaneously not enough about it and too much of it to recommend it. It's a cut below even Shooter and Brooklyn's Finest, which is saying something.
The Equalizer was playing on Blinkbox.