It’s that time of year before the grand onslaught of award contenders, so what better way to wait it out than with an extremely violent revenge fantasy? Some experts call the film “hilariously violent,” while others claim it’s “a bore.”
“The Equalizer” reunites Denzel Washington with “Training Day” director Antoine Fuqua. While audiences won’t be treated to another Oscar-caliber performance from Washington, some critics are enthusiastically recommending the film, qualifying their zeal with, “If you’re into this kind of thing.”
The Village Voice’s Alan Scherstuhl calls the film “gloriously dumb” and “hilariously violent.”
Denzel Washington doesn’t have to say a word. He can do more with a move, a head tilt, a shot of fire in the eye than most actors do with pages of dialogue.
The material shows its age when McCall goes all Taxi Driver to save a teen hooker (a scrappy Chloë Grace Moretz) from her pimps. But Washington and director Antoine Fuqua, who teamed for the actor’s Oscar-winning role in 2001’s Training Day, keep the action humming. The film runs long, at 131 minutes, but the takedown of a psycho Russian fixer (Marton Csokas) is sweet agony, and Washington, as ever, is the essence of cool.
Some critics were enamored with the notion that Washington is still kicking ass at age 59. James Rocchi of The Wrap tempered audiences’ expectations by noting that the film takes a while to develop character.
“Anyone expecting kick-started action from the jump will be mildly disappointed,” Rocchi wrote. “Washington is terrific here, a blue-collar Bourne far from the champagne sophistication of Bond, his astonishing physicality springing out in his action scenes and in his decisive moments while still suggesting the calm, collected thought before each brief burst of violence. Washington is that rarity: an action-film star capable of gravitas and feeling, an actor capable of selling fight sequences and carefully contemplated plans that form in the instant between seconds.”
And then there were the critics who felt as tortured watching the film as Washington’s on-screen victims. Entertainment Weekly’s Joe McGovern called the film as watchable “as slaughterhouse footage.”
“Fuqua and writer Richard Wenk have taken the outline of a 1980s CBS show and turned it into one long and loathsome bore of a movie,” McGovern wrote. “The plot has been gerrymandered so that we sympathize with the protagonist’s plight no matter how many goons he gores through the chin with a corkscrew.”
Well, the final decision lies in the eyes of the viewer.
By Tosin Brown