Retirement. It’s what we’re all working towards, it’s the finish line where you can sit back, relax, and acknowledge the payoff of the hard work of a life well lived, but for Robert McCall, that wasn’t enough.
His retirement came to an abrupt end when he answered the call of action and saved a damned soul putting him on a quest of righteous justice.
The Equalizer 1 Review
The Equalizer as a movie shares a lot of common blood, unsurprisingly, with John Wick as both follow former super assassins getting back in the action to take down the worst of the worst, but while Wick is in it for survival, McCall, as a character has elements of Robin Hood in that he does what he does for the community, to right wrongs done by those in power.
As a whole, this first movie is pretty smart in that they don’t tell you a ton about who McCall was, but instead, you see who he is now and you slowly but surely put the pieces together about this ghost, and you see a good man just doing his part. I’d say the first movie has some of the most interesting antagonists in the series, but even they aren’t that great, namely the seedy criminal underbelly and the corrupt cops on their payroll, especially one played by the always excellent David Harbour.
The action is pretty inventive too, what it lacks in the style of Wick, it makes up for in sheer brutality, and that carries over through all three films, and impressive enough they show most of it, which is a problem that a lot of action titles, especially ones like your run of the mill Liam Neeson or Bruce Willis movie, or really any movie with similarly older action leads have regarding hyper editing so they can more easily cut around the stuntman with the intensity of an up-close encounter that a younger actor like say Hemsworth in the Extraction movies could pull off.
The Equalizer is a serviceable movie, It’s nothing fantastic, but it’s fun for what it is, it’s a 6/10.
The Equalizer 2 Review
The Equalizer 2 isn’t bad, it’s just the far-and-away black sheep of the series. Yet again Denzel Washington brings his a-game, and the change in career to cabbie makes sense for the character’s change in role between films.
The action is yet again frenetic and brutal, and I really like seeing Pedro Pascal in this. But everything surrounding that is convoluted and kind of drab, especially with the strange missed opportunity.
So a lot of the backbone of this series involves McCall helping out the community in some way, and in this one, he helps out two very different people, both of their stories tied to art, one a man who had his art taken from him decades prior, the other scared to follow his dream, and you’d think they’d use the impetus of the story to connect those dots, maybe have them inspire each other because of what McCall taught them, I don’t know, but there could’ve been something there and it was just weirdly absent.
They also have the strange choice of fridging one of the only prominent recurring characters and then justifying it after the fact, not even in a flashback with dialogue, just, what a strange way of driving your story.
There’s not much more to say about this one, it’s fine, it’s a decent watch, and there are quite a few interesting moments in there, but there are a couple of choices that left me scratching my head, to say the least, The Equalizer 2 is a 5/10.
The Equalizer 3 Review
Now we arrive at the entire reason I did this article, to begin with. Up until yesterday, I had never seen even one of these movies, hell I don’t think I’ve seen hardly any Denzel movies period, but something about that Equalizer 3 trailer really interested me.
Maybe it was the stopwatch synched to the action, maybe it was the action set against the Italian countryside, or maybe it just seemed charming. So yesterday I watched the entire trilogy, top to bottom entirely for this movie. Was it worth it? Yeah, it kinda was actually.
Okay, it’s not a perfect movie but man, it’s the best of the series. Denzel is better than ever, the brutality is upped from the already creative stuff in the second movie, and I like how they incorporate the lore of the prior movies into not just the characters but also the setup for this one.
It’s probably the cleanest transition between movies, as compared to say, between the first and second which feel like radically different movies at times. Sure the villains aren’t super compelling but you love to hate them in that kind of despicable way and the CIA plot can drag a little at points (although David Denman of Brightburn and The Office fame certainly helps that out), but the character work between McCall and the locals of this small town really makes it all work, it’s just a good time is what it is.
At the shortest runtime of the three, it doesn’t overstay its welcome, it feels just right, and I’d be fine if this is the last time we saw Robert McCall, but I’d also happily welcome more adventures of him as a passing good Samaritan befriending locals and righting wrongs wherever they pass. Or heck, if not another movie, take the John Wick approach and expand to television, I mean that is where the franchise started right?
The Equalizer 3 directed by Antoine Fuqua is a 7/10.
Trilogy Review Conclusion
The Trilogy as a whole is hard to judge, on average, they’re a just ok 6/10, which is perfectly okay! They’re solid weekday night movies to just kick back relax, and watch a good man dish out cathartic justice, and really, that’s all you need sometimes.
It’s taken me a bit to figure out how to express exactly how this is different from something like Wick, in Wick, the action drives the characters, but here, it’s the other way around when McCall sees something that shouldn’t be, he can’t just let it go.
He has to intervene and set things right, whereas, with Wick, those movies are all reactive to something else whether that be his dog’s death or his house burning down or executing someone on Continental grounds, the violence pushes the character to new situations, it’s interesting just how similar and just how different these two characters are, and I can only hope too that whatever comes next for the Equalizer keeps getting better as it carries on.
This review was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the series/movie being covered here wouldn’t exist.