Aza’s Review – The Equalizer

Front Runner For Worst Film Of The Year. This Is One Of The Most Amoral, Nastiest & Grotesquely Violent Oddities Of 2014.

You know, when the Azman sits down to watch a movie, I always go in with the best of intentions. Give everything a shot. Look for redeeming features even if I feel the film is missing the mark. A lot of people and time goes into making films, so you gotta pay respect to that. I found that almost impossible to do with The Equalizer, and for the life of me I have no idea how it bares any resemblance to the 1985 British TV series that starred Edward Woodward. Outside of both central characters being former intelligence operatives, the comparison pretty much ends there.

The Equalizer tells the tale of Robert (Denzel Washington in sleepwalking mode), a retired CIA operative who now works at Home Depot (yes, prepare for an onslaught of product placement so blatant you’ll Sony … uhh.. I mean soon be wondering if the whole movie was finance by Home Depot or Ikea)  and reads classic novels in a diner at night. One of the frequenters of said diner is Alina (Chloe Grace Moretz), a prostitute for a nefarious Russian gangster outfit (yes, you already know where this is going), whom he befriends. She shortly thereafter cops a beating from her pimp and winds up in hospital. This sets Robert off on a homicidal rampage to get vengeance, not realising that the men he sets about despatching are actually much bigger players that just pimps.

There is a real ugliness to The Equalizer, from the utterly uninspired script that’s been lazily put together to the over reliance on grotesquely graphic violence. Antoine Fuqua’s heavy hand is back in full swing and the huge lapses in logic are only further enhanced by the wildly uneven pacing of the film. The first 20 minutes of The Equalizer is an insufferable bore with so much telegraphing of what’s to come you won’t need to look at your watch because you’ll repeatedly see Robert’s brand spanking new one, along with his new balance sneakers, his Sony Vaio laptop, his Sony mobile and his Home Depot shirt.  It seems to me that Fuqua was meeting all his contractual obligations for product placement in the opening act to get it out of the way. This constant barrage of product placement litters The Equalizer all capped off with the big showdown happening in, you guessed it, a Home Depot outlet.

The product placement is of little concern compared to the complete amorality on show here. Robert is homicidal maniac who despatches his victims with a degree of grotesque violence that actually took me by surprise. That he does it with such abandon (a corkscrew through the chin, a shot glass through the eye socket, hanging by barbed wire, multiple brutal stabbings, sledge hammers, multiple gunshot victims) and we’re meant to be rooting for him gave me great pause. In the session I saw, the audience cheered as he picked up a sledgehammer to go after a baddie and then they laughed again when he put the bloodied weapon back on the rack. What does that say about us? We’re supposed to support a vigilante killing machine who is slaughtering criminals that should be arrested? The Equalizer certainly believes you should be on his side. But it is so nasty in the way the avenging is executed. It is full on brutal violence for violence’s sake. There’s something majorly wrong with the psychology here.

(And there maybe hypocrisy in me here as I am a fan of films like Die Hard, Kill Bill, Why Don’t You Play In Hell, Evil Dead and Peter Jackson’s early work but whereas they gunned for the utter ludicrousness of the splatterfest, The Equalizer hammers the seriousness.)

Some funny things I found throughout:

  • Robert only kills white people – Russians and Irish mafia types (Is this racism?)
  • His former CIA superior actually enables his murderous rampage (?)
  • I still, for the life of me, cannot work out the Latin American Security Guard storyline.
  • There are no police in Boston, well there’s one, but he is corrupt.
  • Every bad guy in the mafia is covered in tattoos.
  • When did Moscow look exactly like Upstate New York?
  • There’s a drinking game in the amount of close up tracking shots in this movie

I could go on, but I won’t. This is one of the worst films I’ve seen in a long time and I was really disturbed by its addiction to cruelty and gratuitous violence.

THE EQUALIZER releases THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 25, 2014 in AUSTRALIA

The Equalizer