Typically, I’m not a big fan of movies based on old television shows (This one is based on the 1985 TV series The Equalizer, starring Edward Woodward). However, I am a big fan of Denzel Washington, so I thought I’d give this flick a look. I’m glad I did. When it comes to film adaptations of TV shows The Equalizer is probably one of the best I’ve seen.
Retired government agent (although they never name the agency, one assumes it’s the CIA) Robert McCall, has left his agent days behind and a lives a quiet, well-ordered life. He is a widower and most of his human contact is through his job at a local home improvement center. He is a mentor of sorts to a young kid named Ralphie who wants to become a security guard at the center and the other employees who are mostly younger men who call McCall Pops.
In the evenings he takes his book to a local coffee shop and reads while enjoying a cup of tea. At the coffee shop he befriends a young prostitute who aspires to be a singer. McCall takes a fatherly interest in the girl and treats her with kindness and intelligence – encouraging her to pursue her dreams.
Soon, we learn that the young prostitute, Teri, is under the thumb of the Teddy the pimp. A particularly sadistic jerk who works for the Russian mob. Teri defies her pimp and instead of taking a call, has a conversation with Robert in the coffee shop. Naturally, Teddy seeks her out, throws her in the car and the next thing we learn is that she was beaten up so badly that she was hospitalized.
McCall attempts to buy Teri’s freedom but is ridiculed by Teddy and his henchmen. Big mistake. CIA Agent mode kicks in on McCall and he becomes a one man wrecking crew determined to rid the earth of these scum suckers.
While the plot is pretty much the template for most action films, the actors, the writing and direction make it an above average watch. You care about these people. You care about McCall. And you want him to win. He’s like the ultimate bully fighter and does it with precision, calm and some serious creativity. I don’t want to give away any spoilers but in the final showdown sequence he does in some bad guys in some very MacGyver-like ways, that I loved. The film is fast-paced, with crisp dialogue and believable characters. And then of course there’s Denzel – who doesn’t love him?
At the end we see we’re set up for sequels (should the film do well, expect more Equalizer movies).
If you like fast-paced, sharp, tense action thrillers, I think you’ll like The Equalizer. It’s absolutely worth the price of a rental and even some popcorn too.