Before Fuqua and Wenk rebooted The Magnificent Seven, the director/writer duo tackled the 80’s show, The Equalizer. Frankly, this earlier collaboration is much more successful. Fuqua took his time building the character and back-story for Denzel Washington (Fences). The plot is tight and with little chaff. They also managed to get me to let go of Edward Woodward’s portrayal of the original character by capturing the root of his drives and wrapping them up in something new and plausible. OK, didn’t completely forget Woodward, but I was able to watch this rendition of the idea with an open mind thanks to the careful story telling.
Washington is surrounded by a bevy of actors, though he still dominates the movie. Chloë Grace Moretz (Clouds of Sils Maria) turns in a nicely understated performance that is the catalyst for plot. Bill Pullman (Independence Day: Resurgence) and Melissa Leo (Snowden) play an unlikely but comfortably aging couple that add support. And for Angel fans, there is always Vladimir Kulich without his Beast make-up.
My only gripe in the cast was Marton Csokas (Falcón). It is an interesting character, and a scary one at that, but beggared credibility for me. Unlike Washington’s work, the character felt more cliché rather than new and I could easily predict his dialogue and actions simply because there was little to guess at.
Like John Wick, the Equalizer kills by necessity and often after giving people a choice. But, though Washington is also rather cold and methodical about his attacks, they are clearly filmed for us to enjoy. We are not left with any sense of regret for his actions, we celebrate them. That is the point of the film and character, so I’m not criticizing, but seeing it in such close proximity to Wick, it is an interesting comparison to make.
As a franchise launch, this was a solid start. Whether that momentum can be maintained with the sequel will really depend on how much care they give the script and its production. On the up side, Wenk is still writing, but a director has yet to be confirmed at this time.