The Equalizer Review
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Denzel Washington is one of Hollywood’s most reliable leading men. When he headlines a film, you generally know what to expect: action, drama, and one irresistibly charming star. While the face of action movies continues to change, this dependable hero has had no problem keeping up. And as he reunites with his Training Day director, Antoine Fuqua, for The Equalizer, he seems to reach almost comic book blockbuster proportions.

Inspired by the classic TV series, The Equalizer stars Washington as Robert McCall, a mild-mannered mystery man who spends his days working at a hardware megastore and his nights drinking tea and reading the classics at a local diner. When a young girl from the diner finds herself in over her head with the Russian mob, Robert can’t ignore it. Instead, he steps outside of his quiet, controlled world to help her. But what starts out as an attempt to help a troubled teen soon turns into a battle against a vicious crime syndicate after the mob’s enforcer is sent in to investigate.

The Equalizer is about as close as Washington comes to playing a dark, edgy comic book superhero. Despite his normal job and his simple life, it soon becomes very clear that McCall isn’t just an ordinary guy taking on an extraordinary situation—nor is he just another determined cop. He has a very specific skill set—as well as the training that enables him to walk unarmed into a room full of bad guys and kill every last one of them (in shockingly brutal ways) in 30 seconds or less, using a variety of makeshift weapons. And he manages to do it all in the coolest, smoothest way possible.

But the character also has his share of quirks—from his strange obsession with his stopwatch to an almost superhuman ability to case a room and his almost MacGyver-like tactics. And though his occasionally over-the-top behavior can border on laughable, it also makes him different—like the kind of hero that you’d expect to find in the latest Marvel movie. But this isn’t another PG-13 summer blockbuster. It’s dark and gritty and sometimes shockingly, graphically violent—though, at the same time, it’s also undeniably entertaining.

Still, The Equalizer isn’t a fast-moving film. It builds slowly, taking its time to introduce the characters—and to make sure that everyone in the audience knows what a good guy McCall is. It’s also much longer than it needs to be. But Washington carries it all in a way that seems effortless—because there’s just something about him that makes even the film’s slow moments seem bearable.

Time and time again, Washington has proven himself to be tough but lovable, reliable but adaptable. And in The Equalizer, he gives his role both classic charm and astonishing ferocity, making it an extreme but enjoyable thriller.

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