|Sometimes a peaceful man must|
Dir. Antoine Fuqua
Scr. Richard Wenk
Starring: Denzel Washington, Marton Csokas, Chloë Grace Moretz, David Harbour, Bill Pullman, Melissa Leo, David Meunier, Haley Bennett, Allen Maldonado, Dan Bilzerian
Review By Greg Klymkiw
If you're going to make a movie about a retired CIA intelligence operative (Denzel Washington, sporting a nicely-shaved pate), living a quality life of mega-Zen-O-Rama in Boston, hanging out nightly in a quaint greasy spoon wherein he reads classic literature recommended to him by his now-dead wife, befriending a sweet teenage whore (Chloë Grace Moretz) "owned" by the Russian Mob, but who could be the daughter he never had, save for the parts where she spreads her legs for a myriad of gross clients and suffers savage beatings at the hands of her despicable Putin-like pimp, then, my friends, if your movie revolves around a man such as this, it is absolutely imperative that you give this lethal, morally incorruptible gent a job in a big box Home Depot-like store since sooner or later, he's going to take out the entire Russkie criminal underworld and it will be ever-so helpful (for him) and delightful (for us) when he's forced to kill a mess o' bad guys by utilizing what one normally finds in such insanely expansive shopping oases: various tools, hammers, drills, saws and (my favourite). . .
The mind boggles.
Well, as derivative as Richard Wenk's still-efficient screenplay proves to be, director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) runs with the sturdy coat hanger handed to him by the aforementioned scribe and offers up a genuinely great macho-man action film that dazzles with a perfectly-pitched directorial style and skill-level to put all the hacks and poseurs who can't direct action to complete and utter shame.
Fuqua knows exactly where to place his camera, holds nicely on wide shots that display rigorous fight choreography of the finest pedigree and only uses mediums, closeups and cuts when he needs to for the purposes of rendering dramatic beats. Wenk even allows for a Quentin Tarantino rip-off, which is, in fact, a rip-off of many films before the crime-loving auteur began to employ the delicious technique of endless dialogue twixt opposing forces and eventually exploding into the most mind-blowing extremities of violence imaginable.
Fuqua's picture is so well directed that all the cliches and rip-offs are water off a duck's back. It's first-rate entertainment which allows Denzel Washington the opportunity to rescue Chloë Grace Moretz and put a dent in the Mob's business dealings to a point where a vicious trouble-shooter from the Old Country sails into town with an endless supply of assassins who Denzel is allowed to dispatch - one after another, and in ways that might make even the most Liberal of audiences buy the rabid anti-Russia propaganda hook, line and sinker.
Vaguely based on the 80s cult TV show, this has "action franchise" written all over it. That's all well and good, but I'd love to see Fuqua direct Washington in a movie that actually had a great script a la the dirty 70s practitioners of violent existential male angst. I doubt we'll find it in a franchise, but for now, I'll hold fast onto the pleasures The Equalizer delivers and dreamily imagine a day when I see a movie truly worthy of these two supremely gifted men.
THE FILM CORNER RATING: *** 3-Stars
The Equalizer enjoys its Gala world premiere at TIFF 2014 and will be released by Sony Pictures.
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