Yes, the movie is a slow-burn where Richard Wenk seems to have all the time in the world to show us how Robert McCall goes from being normal to raging bull. In between the transition, we see how Washington brings this character with constantly on the workout parenting and motivational coaching session to the people around him. Robert McCall’s OCD trademark fits in. But he always sees things as it is, motivating his Home Mart co-workers that earns him respect from them. "Progress, not perfection!" For that you see the softer side of the man, his mysterious background and nature is pretty much on the vault, hidden from the audience for most of the time.
But yes, he changes and develops as the plot progresses to the second act much like a raging bull horning on the red muleta. Perhaps, the most interesting catalyst of those is his encounters with a call girl Terri (Chloe Grace Moretz) who also patrons his favourite diner. Terri was brutally beaten by her pimp. Not sure if it is because of sympathy or empathy, Robert transforms and exacts vengeance on the Russian gang responsible for Terri’s injury. He has unique skill sets - so Liam Neeson is not the only one who has those – damn! He takes down the criminals while checking on the clock and sets booby traps like Richard Dean Anderson’s MacGyver. Of course, the gang retaliates by sending a hit squad under the ghoulish assassin Teddy (Martin Csokas) to finish him off.
The first act is not only about establishing the characters, and putting them across the board. It gives a sense of the intimidating nature of organized criminal activity, police corruption and vigilantism in the city of Boston. In the second act, it is all about executing the plans. Along with these plans, there are great tendency that Fuqua executes them in the most gory and bloody fashion. Remember the booby traps – no they do not incapacitate, but works more like a slow torture. The good thing is it never treats itself as a violence porn because the throat-slicing or gut-spilling or head-smacking moments are rather calm and tidily-made. While the movie enjoys itself in the bask of dark, serious-tone and edgy actions, it still has some time for some humours – nothing more pleasing than to see Washington doing some too.
However, there are still things that may not go down that well through the enjoyment loop. Once again, the Hollywood is treating the bad guys with so much inept. Even with suaveness and charms surrounding this Russian assassin Teddy, which is put on display with great gravita by the Kiwi actor Martin Csokas; it is still implausible that they do not to find a proper space for any clever showdown between him and Robert. I would have to say that I was not impressed by how the finale goes down, but I think the minimal action is quite consistent throughout. The fact that the presence of Chloe Grace Moretz has not been substantial or significant, but judging by how she becomes the influence in male heroism (much like Natalie Portman to Jean Reno in The Professional), that is understandably alright.
Of course, The Equalizer is not much about spraying bullets or breaking bones, but you may have to settle with human elements but with dividing emotion. The Equalizer delivers as a dark, gloomy and edgy action thriller with revenge serves hot on the table, although not without its share of flaws. B+
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