Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) is by nature a helpful man. Sometimes this help means espousing some thought-provoking philosophical advice, like what he gives to local street walker and hard luck case Teri (Chloe Grace Moretz). Sometimes it means helping a co-worker at the local do it yourself hardware store lose some weight so he can pass a test and be a security guard, like what he does for out of shape Ralphie (Johnny Skourtis). And sometimes, it means calculating how many seconds it will take to kill/disable five armed men in a room, the leader of whom should have taken McCall’s payoff for Teri’s freedom, like what he does with Slavi (David Meunier) and his crew. This is why he is known as “The Equalizer”—whenever there is an injustice or an imbalance, or where some is struggling or in trouble, he puts his skills to good use to help.
The bad news is that doing good against the wrong people can make some dangerous enemies. None are more brutal or ruthless than Teddy (Marton Csokas), a Russian mob enforcer called to Boston to track down McCall. He has the type of disaffected personality, detached emotions, and icy stare that let everyone around him know that he is not to be trifled with. The fact that he pummels a less than worthy business partner into a bloody pulp makes it abundantly clear.
While it should be no surprise that there is a fair amount of the red stuff being tossed around since this movie is rated R, when the violence does come it is shocking. This is because McCall is such a cool, calm character—he never loses his temper, is always thinking, and is always in control. It’s also because “The Equalizer” takes about half an hour to get to a scene where bloody action takes place. When it does happen, it is quick and it is brutal. You’re likely to be asking yourself the same thing the guys getting beaten up and killed are asking themselves: “Is this calm, laid back, philosophical, intellectual guy the same guy who just killed someone with a corkscrew.”
Yes and no. Bill Pullman and Melissa Leo have cameos in the movie as a couple from McCall’s past. While it’s never explicitly stated what he did or what they do, if you’ve seen enough movies it is easy to infer that he was involved in some type of covert ops for the CIA. There is also talk that at one point McCall had a wife, who died. After that, he left his government career behind him by faking his own death and sought to live the quiet life. Only now with Teddy on his tail does he have to resurface in order to go to them and gain information on who he is dealing with. He knows it is time to put away the gentle, quiet McCall, and go back into being the violent, lethal McCall…the Equalizer. Rent It.
Also out this week: “Tusk,” about a man searching for his missing best friend—Haley Joel Osment is in this movie!; “Elsa and Fred,” winter years romance story with Shirley MacLaine and Christopher Plummer; “Reach Me,” about a group of people affected by the same self help book, starring Sylvester Stallone and Kyra Sedgewick; and “The Spongebob Squarepants Movie,” where our favorite water absorbing hero (voice of Tim Kenny) goes on a search for King Neptune’s (voice of Jeffrey Tambor) crown.