Wednesday, September 02, 2015

The Equalizer

Based on the TV series by Michael Sloan and Richard Lindheim, The Equalizer is the story of a former black ops operative who lives a quiet life until he befriends a young prostitute who has been assaulted by the Russian mob as he decides to take them down. Directed by Antoine Fuqua and screenplay by Richard Wenk, the film is a simple story of a man who tries to make amends of his past as he tries to do what is right in a world that is often troubled and corrupt. Starring Denzel Washington, Marton Csokas, Chloe Grace Moretz, David Harbour, Melissa Leo, and Bill Pullman. The Equalizer is a stylish yet gripping film from Antoine Fuqua.

The film is a simple story of a man who works at a hardware store as he hides the secret that he was once a black ops operative where he meets a young prostitute who is later beaten by her pimp as he realizes that her pimp is part of the Russian mob in Boston. It’s a vigilante film of sorts where a man tries to bring justice in a world where it’s not just the mob that is running rampant but also corrupt cops who try to instill their authority on common people. All of which would get a man to use the skills of his dark past and use it for good to make the world a better place for good people. The film’s screenplay by Richard Wenk showcases who Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) is as someone who lives a common life who eats at the same diner every morning while reading a book and goes to work at a hardware store where he is loved by other employees while playing softball with them.

At the same time, he helps a young man named Ralphie (Johnny Skourtis) pass his test to become a security guard for the store which shows his own sense of generosity. Yet, he is called into action when he befriends this young hooker named Alina (Chloe Grace Moretz) who is fascinated by the books that McCall reads where she suddenly doesn’t show up one morning at the diner where McCall learned what happened to her. This would lead McCall to do something where he realizes what is going on as it plays into not just a Russian mob syndicate trying to maintain some control in the crime underworld but would also have the aid of corrupt policemen. All of which would eventually lead to a meeting between McCall and a mob leader named Teddy Rensen (Marton Csokas) who is revealed to be working for the most powerful man in the Russian mob as he tries to figure out what is going on unaware that McCall is really far more dangerous.

Antoine Fuqua’s direction is very engaging not just for playing into a sense of style but also in maintaining something that is very simple that isn’t afraid to be conventional but also have some intrigue to make it more interesting. Notably as Fuqua isn’t afraid to play into a sense of repetition in the way McCall conducts his daily life as well as know when to go for scenes that are just simple character moments such as a scene where McCall helps out Ralphie over a situation that happened in his mother’s restaurant. It’s among these smaller moments that Fuqua creates that really gives the film a balance as it showcases more of who McCall is as well as a sequence where he visit a couple of old friends from the CIA who would help him uncover more of the mob activities in Boston. Fuqua would keep things simple with his approach to close-ups and medium shots along with a few wide shots as much of it is shot on location in Boston.

For the moments of suspense and violence, Fuqua knows when to build up the element of suspense as it plays into McCall’s sense of control and how he observes every environment and scenario to see what he can do in a situation. The moments are quite violent where it involves blood and sorts yet McCall’s approach has a sense of control compared to the tactics of the mob which are far more brutal as it would lead to a violent climax. Overall, Fuqua crafts a very smart and thrilling film about a vigilante who tries to do what is right in a world where good people are being harmed.

Cinematographer Mauro Fiore does excellent work with the film‘s cinematography with its usage of lights for many of the nighttime interior/exterior scenes to set moods for the film that pay homage to film noir. Editor John Refoua does nice work in the editing with its rhythmic approach to some of the action while knowing when to slow things down for the suspenseful and dramatic moments. Production designer Naomi Shohan, with set decorator Leslie E. Rollins and art director David Lazan, does brilliant work with the design of the places that the Russian mob works and socialize at as well as the hardware store that McCall works at. Costume designer David C. Robinson does terrific work with the costumes from the stylish dresses that Alina wears to the suits that the mob wears.

Makeup artist Rob Fitz and tattoo designer Rhet Kidd do amazing work with the wigs that Alina wears as well as the look of the tattoos of the Russian mob figures. Visual effects supervisor Sean Devereaux does some fantastic work with some of the film‘s minimal visual effects as it plays to the scenarios that McCall tries to figure out in situations as well as some of eerie violent moments. Sound designer David Esparza and sound editor Mandell Winter do superb work with the sound to play into some of the textures in some of the locations as well as some sound effects to play into the suspense. The film’s music by Harry Gregson-Williams is wonderful as it’s this mixture of eerie electronic music with some orchestral flourishes that play into the suspense and drama while some of the music of the film ranges from soul, hip-hop, and post-punk.

The casting by Lindsay Graham and Mary Vernieu is great as it features some notable small roles from David Meunier as Alina’s pimp Slavi, Alex Veadov as a mob figure named Tevi, Vladimir Kulich as the head of the Russian mob named Pushkin, Haley Bennett as a prostitute friend of Alina named Mandy, and Johnny Skourtis as a friend of McCall named Ralphie who wants to be a security guard with McCall’s help. David Harbour is terrific as a corrupt cop named Masters who works with the mob as he is later confronted by McCall who would use some devious tricks to get him to talk. Bill Pullman and Melissa Leo are excellent in their respective roles as Brian and Susan Plummer as two former CIA agents who McCall turns to for help on information of the people he is dealing with.

Marton Csokas is brilliant as the mob leader Teddy Rensen who is trying to oversee the operations in Boston as he deals with the mysterious death of his men as well as McCall whom he sees as a major threat. Chloe Grace Moretz is fantastic as Alina as a teenage prostitute who befriends McCall as they share a love for books as she finds a guardian angel in McCall. Finally, there’s Denzel Washington in a phenomenal performance as Robert McCall as it’s a very lively performance from Washington who does bring in some charm and humor into his role but it’s mostly quiet and stoic in the fact that he’s this silent badass that knows what to do and how to get it done to make sure that the world is a safer place for good people.

The Equalizer is a marvelous film from Antoine Fuqua that features an incredible performance from Denzel Washington. Not only is it a smart and compelling suspense-thriller but also a unique study into a man who uses violent skills to ensure some justice into a world that is corrupt and bring hope to ordinary people living decent lives. In the end, The Equalizer is a remarkable film from Antoine Fuqua.

© thevoid99 2015


Dell said...

So happy you enjoyed this one. I love the restraint Fuqua showed in mot rushing to the action as quickly as possible. It really paid off when we got it. And it was spectacularly brutal. And yes, Denzel is perfect, in this one.

thevoid99 said...

I wasn't even going to review the film but I was watching it yesterday morning and just got sucked into it. It was that fucking good. I love seeing Denzel playing these type of roles. Plus, I liked seeing him do a bit of dancing and just be fucking cool.

Ruth said...

I love Denzel but for some reason I'm just not all that interested in this. But maybe I'll give it a rent one of these days.

thevoid99 said...

@ruth-It's on Starz right now and if you have that channel. It's a film that is worth a look and it's actually very surprising considering that it has some substance as well as elements that make it more interesting.