Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Equalizer

For the first roughly 40 of its 131 minutes, The Equalizer attempts to show us that Denzel Washington's Robert McCall is a loner, a man who lives on the fringes of society, keeping to himself, clearly hiding a past.  We know all that because the trailers told us so.  What the movie really does is show us a guy who lives alone but who is friends with pretty much everyone at his workplace, a guy who we know is special only because he's Washington.  Those 40 minutes should have been 20 minutes, and they should have foreshadowed his growing frustration at the violence rampant in his world.

After that time, though, the action starts, and from then on the movie is exactly the sort of ride we expect it to be.  McCall is unbelievably perfect, able to absorb insane amounts of punishment, capable of acts not possible to mere mortals, and, well, exactly what audiences want him to be.  Proof of this expectation is readily available:  the Rotten Tomatoes ratings for the film are 59% positive from critics, but 83% positive from moviegoers.  I count myself in the latter camp, because I came for exactly the sort of movie it was, and so I left reasonably satisfied--except, of course, with those first 40 minutes. 

The one area in which this movie easily beats others of its type is the performance of its lead.  Denzel Washington speaks relatively little in the movie, but he doesn't have to talk to let the audience know what he's thinking.  His facial control is perfect, and his ability to communicate non-verbally is one few actors can match.  The film is worth seeing for his performance alone.

If you're a fan of Washington's, or if you're in the mood for the sort of movie The Equalizer is, you will quite enjoy it, and I encourage you to see it.

Do, though, take any bathroom break in the opening half hour.

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