The Equalizer Entertaining if Conventional


Clark Sacktor, Collumnist

Antoine Fuqua’s The Equalizer avoids mediocrity through stylized cinematography despite being an archetypal action film. The movie, which is playing at the Apollo Theatre until Oct. 9, is the second of Fuqua’s productions to star actor Denzel Washington and is based on a 1980s TV show of the same name. While certainly a step down from their previous collaboration, Training Day, the film is not devoid of entertaining moments.

The film begins with a meticulous home improvement depot employee named Robert McCall (Denzel Washington), also known as Bobby, whose mysterious past is gradually revealed over the duration of the movie. Bobby’s nightly routine of reading literary classics serves as heavy-handed foreshadowing of the plot.

During one of his nighttime readings, Bobby meets the promising yet troubled prostitute Teri (Chloë Grace Moretz). While her character is initially interesting, Teri’s onscreen presence ultimately diminishes. When Bobby hears that she has been brutally beaten by her pimp, he embarks upon a revenge mission, bringing his character and the audience face-to-face with corrupt police officers and Russian mobsters.

In a subplot, Bobby helps his determined but misguided co-worker, Ralphie (Johnny Skourtis), train to become a security officer. This subplot emphasizes Bobby’s character as the kindhearted protagonist.

Teddy (Marton Csokas), a Russian hitman charged with taking Bobby down after his initial run-in with the mob, is creepy, brutal and intimidating. However, Csokas’s performance sometimes seems over-the-top, and his delivery often feels cartoonish.

The action involving Teddy builds slowly, with no excitement during the first 40 minutes or so, but it is well worth the wait.

In some action scenes, the camera follows Bobby’s eyes in slow motion while he examines his surroundings. The action then dramatically intensifies as the depot employee brutally takes out his enemies. These scenes are reminiscent of the Bourne film trilogy, and the slow motion camerawork is similar to that of the recent Sherlock Holmes franchise. Despite its lack of originality, the action does not disappoint.

Fuqua’s use of typical action film conventions is frustrating. Washington is repeatedly seen walking away slowly from explosions. Key action scenes seem to take place offscreen, and the audience is left confused. Bobby also appears to have a knack for being in the right place at the right time for the purposes of the story. The film also suffers from a bloated runtime of over two hours and could have benefited from the omission of unnecessary scenes.

If you are willing to accept some fluff, then The Equalizer probably will not leave you unsatisfied. The mildly entertaining action, in addition to Washington’s presence onscreen, is enough to warrant a viewing on a slow weekend in Oberlin.