The Equalizer review by Alyse Garner - Cinema Paradiso
Denzel Washington is the quiet and mysterious lead in this dark action-thriller where a warehouse worker takes it upon himself to save the life and morality of a prostitute under the control of a violent Russian gangster.
With a slow burning tension and a well-built sense of anticipation The Equalizer takes it’s time to develop character and tone; Washington’s McCall, a man with an unknown past and an inability to sleep, is precise and careful in his everyday life, choosing to spend his sleepless nights reading from his vast collection of novels in a dinging all night diner and his days doing thankless manual labour. He choose his words, his clothes, even his food, with careful deliberation, keeps his apartment clean and sparsely decorated, everything about his presentation points to an outward calm that hides an inner – and probably violent – struggle. His encounter with the pretty but bruised Teri (Chloe Grace Moretz) forces him out of this unqualified retirement and into a world populated by violence, gunfire and thugs.
A dark and well-constructed feature the Equalizer was better than I expected it to be. It held my attention and I found Washington’s character far more intriguing and compelling than the majority of his heroic peers. I appreciated the time the film makers took to develop the character and the combined use of camera work and Denzel’s on screen performance to keep the central focus on the character rather than action throughout the runtime.
With a couple of similarly well played supporting characters, notably that of Teddy (Martin Csokas) the huge, tattooed and quietly spoken mafia boss who holds power over Teri, the Equalizer is driven by character far more than plot.
One of the better thrillers of recent years it’s nice to Washington return to the roles he does best, utilizing his deep and enigmatic eyes to draw the audience in and imbuing his character with the kind of real personality that is missing from most contemporary films in the genre.