Plot: Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) seems to have a normal, quiet life, working at a home improvement store and winding down with books, but there is more to this man than meets the eye. At work he shows a remarkable level of precision and efficiency, an attention to detail that happens by instinct, while his personal life is mostly isolated and he rarely sleeps. He does have some social connections, helping a young man at work train for a promotion and late at night, he reads at a local diner and there, he meets an interesting young woman, Teri (Chloe Grace Moretz). He knows she has a rough life and works as a prostitute, but when she is badly beaten one night, he takes action and finds himself drawn into a torrent of violence.
Entertainment Value: This is a fun one, an action driven b movie that feels like a throw back to the old vigilante inspired exploitation films. The narrative is straight forward, the pace is brisk, and unlike most action movies from this period, the violence is brutal and nasty at times. This isn’t a sanitized style of action in the least, as the blood flows and there is a palpable impact to the violence, which makes the action scenes much more effective than most. As a fan of these kind of action oriented vigilante stories, seeing one given this kind of production values and polish was fun and while perhaps not as gritty or realistic as some, the vibe is strong with The Equalizer. Denzel Washington nails the role McCall and brings some welcome gravitas to the b movie vibes, easily handling both the dramatic and action needs of the role. He is also believable as a vigilante bad ass, which is crucial in this case. Chloe Grace Moretz is also terrific in a smaller role, while Bill Pullman, Melissa Leo, and Haley Bennett also appear. This is a dark, effective spin on old school, exploitation style vigilante justice, with high production values and polish, but still retains that b movie nastiness.
No nakedness. The narrative is interwoven with sexual elements, but despite the presence of a prostitution and trafficking ring, the movie steers clear of sleaze and sexual content in general. No such reluctance when it comes to violence however, as there is frequent bloodshed and while McCall isn’t averse to guns, he also puts some variety into his death dealing methods. This includes hammer, garden tools, barbed wire, a nail gun, corkscrew, and McCall also doesn’t mind doing some shots, just don’t ask what he does with the glass afterward. There is also some brawling on hand and firearms are prominent, but I appreciate the wide assortment of violence here. As expected, this involves some CGI elements, but the visual effects are a cut above the usual here, so most of the sequences hold up well. The dialogue involves crime talk and tough guy talk of course, but McCall spices up his murderous rampage with some philosophical touches and even one one liners. As for general craziness, the dark, nasty tone earns a couple points, but The Equalizer isn’t an insanely over the top kind of flick, just a hard hitting, relentless action/thriller.
Overall Insanity: 2/10