As we've been talking about this week, the 80's drama/action television program The Equalizer is getting the full-on movie treatment, courtesy of a duo of heavy hitters: Director Antoine Fuqua and his Training Day leading man Denzel Washington. For those of us who thrilled to the weekly exploits of former Company spy Robert McCall saving New Yorkers in trouble, the thought of a movie version has obviously piqued our interests. And while there's very little comparison here to the original, moviegoers are in for a violent and ultimately rewarding experience.
And that's part of the problem: granted, McCall is the most dangerous man no one has ever seen, but that air of invincibility at times feels a bit unrealistic. We know that he will take down Teddy during the climax, even though there may be a moment when the odds are seemingly against him (no pun intended). Minus one huge throwdown with a yoked-up thug, there's simply no point in which McCall's life feels threatened, which at least jibes with the series. What we're left with is simply waiting for the next way he will take down Teddy's men, some of which are truly shocking. Word on the street suggested The Equalizer would be a hard R, and Fuqua doesn't let us down. But to its credit, this level of violence is balanced quite nicely by Washington, a simmering nuclear bomb if one could be imagined. His performance might remind me of previous man-on-the-edge endeavors, but it's done so well that I can look past any shortcomings. During a confrontation at a restaurant, McCall stares down Teddy with eyes as steely as a black hole and asks "What do you see when you look at me?" From that point on, we truly have a battle among titans brewing, even though we know exactly what will happen.
And that's the reality behind Hollywood reboots: content to make wholesale swaps in content, studios play a dangerous game with fan's emotions, leaving us to hope they at least capture the spirit of our childhood memories before raping our wallets. Summer films could learn a lot from this one, balancing a deep story about embracing your true colors rather than keeping them tightly under wraps, while delivering some of the best fight scenes in recent memory.
The Equalizer is Rated R for for strong bloody violence and language throughout, including some sexual references and has a runtime of 131 minutes.
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