So we’ve officially run out of places to do a take on Die Hard. Wait, have we done Die Hard in a Home Depot yet?
“The Equalizer” stars Denzel Washington in a reimagining of the 80s TV show about a man who takes it upon himself to right the wrongs of the world around him in swift and decisive fashion. But in upsetting an entire Russian mafia he may have bitten off a little more than he can chew. But man, chew he does, with a fervor and intensity that is quite amplified from the TV show of the same name that ran for 4 seasons almost 30 years ago. Speaking of which, when it come to making movies out of a TV series, my expectations are already low, which might be why this movie ended up being much better than I expected.
Or maybe Denzel Washington just makes anything better. Seriously though, the dude is perfect for this role. The quiet intensity, the kindness that he exudes for those he protects, the measured justice he shows to those he pursues, it’s all right in the Denzel wheelhouse and he gives this movie a real authenticity it might be missing otherwise. But my favorite thing about the movie is the way they develop these characters. The movie takes it’s time, letting us see the lives of this man and those he is close to in a way that really connected me to the story. It made it so that I not only knew who I was rooting for, but why. A trick way too many movies don’t understand. I also really love movies that have a hero who has the confidence to be one step ahead of the bad guys, never besting them accidently but truly winning the battle on intelligence and merit.
Speaking of the bad guys. They were easily my worst thing. They were just so over the top. I mean the main baddie was so melodramatic, they might as well had him twirling his mustache and tying some maidens to the train tracks. I mean, I liked that the movie drew pretty clear lines about who deserved The Equalizer’s swift hand, it’s a necessary part of the formula, keeping us from getting caught up in the moral ambiguity of his vigilantism, but enough is enough. Plus they weren’t really a match for Denzel. I got the feeling the movie wanted us to see this Russian clean up man, at the center of the evil actions, as some sort of equal, but he never did anything to earn that, other than be grotesquely cruel, and send wave after wave of henchman after Denzel. (A head’s up about the grotesquely cruel stuff, if you’re squeamish you might want to wait to see this in an environment where you can fast forward through it). My point is these villains were over the top in action but soft in practice and it could slightly downgrade your buy in to this hero’s greatness.
At the end of the day, The Equalizer is a solid adaptation of the TV show’s formula with some wonderful character development that grounds it in truth. Denzel is great, and even if his foes are a bit lame, he keeps the movie balanced a B.