From 1985 to 1989 English actor Edward Woodward was The Equalizer, aka Robert McCall, a former well armed shadowy governmental agent who “had gun and traveled,” albeit not very far, to help the innocent; why then, in the big screen adaptation is Denzel Washington more like MacGyver than Robert McCall? Anyone watching the film its opening weekend would have noticed that, unlike the small screen version of the character, McCall used quite a number of implements to kill the bad guys. Implements that were not guns. It should also be pointed out that in Mr. Woodward’s televised, and fairly violent, series the villains were mostly homegrown rapists, murderers, blackmailers, et al versus the Russian baddies in the film version.
It is interesting that eastern European villains were also the big bad of choice in the 2014 film The Drop. Certainly a lot of criminal types from that area of the world have immigrated to the U.S. since the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the U.S.S.R. but it may not be much longer before denizens of that part of the world cry foul.
In the 1980’s original version of McCall’s helping the little guy, and gal, he used guns. Mainly a Walther PPK like Her Majesty’s Service’s James Bond, but Woodward’s character used quite a number of different makes, models and calibres of weapons in his job of evening the score between good guy and bad. Of course McCall, as played by Mr. Woodward, was a gun for hire. A man whose prior job for the secretive “agency” was that of assassin.
MacGyver the other 1980’s show which featured a hero who was also a governmental employee, aka secret agent, who rarely had access to weapons, guns or otherwise. This particular show was about as anti gun as an action show could get. The agent, who had a huge amount of knowledge about practical science used everyday items, and more exotic ones to defeat the baddies in the long running series. Because of the main character’s distaste for guns, the body count was rather low for an action series.
Of course the question of Denzel Washington being more like MacGyver and less like The Equalizer hero Robert McCall has more to do with his very limited use of guns in the movie rather than his scientific knowledge or lack of bodies. After all, how much practical science is needed to kill someone with an empty shot glass? It is interesting to note that the governmental former agent for an equally shady governmental agency, has the ability to use, much like MacGyver, everyday items to dispatch the Russian bad guys.
In the big screen adaptation McCall uses a variety of Home Depot type objects to kill members of the opposing team. Garden shears, a tree pruner, a nail gun, and several other building and gardening implements. Certainly this could be down to the fact that Washington’s character works in this type of business or it could be down to Hollywood’s attempting to do their bit to show support for gun control.
What better way to prove that the average citizen, or a more deadly one whose former job included killing with skill and no hesitation, does not need a gun? The age old argument that if it is made a criminal act to own a gun then only criminals with have one, becomes irrelevant if the good guys can use a number of non lethal objects to take out the armed baddies.
Far-fetched? Certainly, but no more than having a man in his 50s who is so deadly that he can dispatch enough villains to fill a ward in the local emergency room, or morgue, at the local hospital. It may be down to the fact that it is more entertaining for Robert McCall to act more like MacGyver in terms of taking out the villains in The Equalizer. Denzel Washington may know the answer, or the director Antoine Fuqua, but in the long run it may only be a matter of curiosity that may well be answered in The Equalizer 2, which is now scheduled for release in 2016. Time and Robert McCall will tell.
By Michael Smith