The Equalizer, the long-running 80’s TV series, has had a serious makeover on the big screen. Two of the most important talents, Denzel Washington and director Antoine Fuqua, have teamed up once again to bring Robert McCall, the private detective who solves problems no one else can, to movie theaters Thursday, September 26. Word of mouth in the industry is they have done a good job of making the former franchise rise above its moniker of popular TV series.
The subject matter of The Equalizer, also starring Chloë Grace Moretz, has been explored in Denzel’s film, Man On Fire, as well as the previous Denzel-Fuqua collaboration, Training Day, with very compelling results. They are telling stories that matter. While some may argue that the trend toward more and more graphic violence, and even cartoon violence, is irresponsible and even dangerous. These films, including The Equalizer, are not about violence but about the goal of resolution to the problem, which gave rise to the violence. The violence featured in these stories is the only alternative. In the best of this genre, the resolution may even be violent, but the aftermath is a moral, a setting right of what went wrong, and a return to peace.
The debate about violence in movies causing aggression in real-life is a valid one. There have been numerous flicks that never rise above the sole purpose of surpassing the gore seen up to that point in any other film. They are usually terrible movies (even though some of them do well at the box office). The other side of the argument, which may be just as valid and perhaps even closer to the truth, is that these movies, even the bad ones, serve, even unintentionally, as a sort of release valve to the madness and real violence in the world. No doubt The Equalizer will be brought, kicking and screaming, into the debate.
The question is can one blame the film maker or entertainer for holding the mirror up to nature? Denzel and Fuqua have applied their talents and insight with skill and taste. The movie promises to be the kind of thrill ride audiences have come to expect from these two talents and it delivers. Viewers will never think about The Equalizer in quite the same way again.
Having met and talked with Denzel, he is clearly a thoughtful and caring man. His choice of material has usually been on the money, not for the money. There are lessons to be learned from the films he has made about life and personal journeys. Is this not the final arbiter? When a young boy says, “I wanna be just like Denzel,” he is not talking about violence. He is talking about being a helpful hero for the most part, and the world could do with a whole lot more of those.
When Denzel makes a movie, and Antoine Fuqua for that matter, it is about story. A good story. People will continue to go to Denzel’s movies because he tells a good story. A story that more often than not will rise above what we have seen before on the subject. The Equalizer does just that.
Review By Nile Ford