It seems that every role Denzel Washington takes, he takes with ease. He’s definitely one of my favorite actors and tends to bring more to a role than is required. He’s also never done a sequel before, but that all may change with The Equalizer. Based on the popular Television series, the film stars Washington as Robert McCall. He lives a simple, structured life and works at a hardware store. We never see him with a cell phone, and he rides the bus to work. He helps a fellow employee who is trying to become a security guard by putting him on a strict diet. He also befriends a young prostitute played by Chloe Grace Moretz with aspirations of becoming a famous singer. When he sees her under the control of some violent Russian gangsters, he decides to make a deal to get her out of that life. The gangsters refuse and this is when we see Robert’s violent side. He keeps a stopwatch on him to time how long it takes him to off an entire room full of thugs. His violent actions have gotten the attention of the Russian crime leader. He sends his head hit man “Teddy” (Marton Csokas) to take care of things and find out who killed his men. We see early on that Teddy isn’t there to waste any time; he’s quick to give orders and is quickly taken to the scene of the crime. Teddy wants to send a message that he’s in town. We see his violent streak in one scene at a construction site. It’s not long before he discovers that McCall is behind the killings and their first encounter is perfectly played by both actors. Instead of ordering his men to kill McCall, Teddy instead asks that they bring him in alive. This pretty much sets the wheels in motion for the rest of the film.
Antoine Fuqua directed the film and he’s reunited with Washington after Training Day. I don’t think this film lives up to their previous effort, but it’s still a worthy entry. The pacing can be a little slow at times and the climax becomes a little ridiculous. McCall is essentially a superhero and the last half of the film takes place in the hardware store where McCall works. I wish things ended a bit differently, because it almost becomes boring and predictable after a while. McCall seems to out-think anyone and everyone. I know he’s had his training, but he dodges bullets left and right and shows almost no emotion. I also hoped for a better final confrontation between McCall and Teddy, but overall, the film gets the job done. As mentioned, Washington has yet to do a sequel, so it will be interesting to see what happens next. The door is clearly left open for one. I enjoyed the film overall, but I just wish the story was stronger and the climax less predictable. I was almost reminded of Home Alone of all movies. The way McCall has rigged the entire store and takes out several henchmen becomes comical after a while. With all that being said, the film is at least worth renting.
Video: How’s it look?
If you’re judging this movie by its cover, then you might ascertain that it’s a very dark movie. You’d be correct. But this new 4K version makes more use of the limited color palette and the HDR showcases a bit more range than the Blu-ray. Thankfully Sony’s presentation of The Equalizer is top notch and, in fact, nearly perfect. Black levels are strong and constant, shadows show no signs of movement or artifacting and contrast works well with the dark color palette. The film has a very lifelike, and filmily quality to it. Honestly no complaints here in the least – this is a bang up job.
Audio: How’s it sound?
Again, if you’re looking at the cover and see a rain-drenched Denzel Washington wielding a gun, you might figure that you’re in for a pretty audio-intensive film. Another upgrade from the Blu-ray is a new Dolby Atmos mix which makes for a very dynamic soundtrack that really leaves nothing to the imagination. Little things like clock radios even manage to engage the surrounds. Plenty of action sequences and gunfire ensue which engage the channels to bring you right in the middle of the action. Truly this is what DTS HD Master Audio soundtracks are for. Another nice effort and one of the more intense mixes I’ve heard in a while.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This new 4K edition actually gives us several new items not found on the previously-released Blu-ray. Obviously this is just a glorified promo for Equalizer 2, but hey – we’ll take it!
Disc One (Ultra HD/4K)
Six In A Row
Six Featurettes – New to the 4K version are half dozen featurettes:
A Villain’s Psychosis – Martin Csokas explains how he got into his character by disassociating himself from his emotions.
Boston: On Location – A look at Beantown and its use as a backdrop in the film.
A Modern Hero – Washington’s anti-hero is profiled and we get a look at what he brought to the role.
Joining Forces Again: Denzel Washington and Antoine Fuqua – Washington brought Fuqua to the project as they had worked together on Training Day. Some of the more explicit motives and actions in the film are explored as well.
Playing the Part: The Cast of The Equalizer – Praise is lauded upon Denzel, but the ensemble cast is profiled here too with quips from Bill Pullman and Chloe Grace Moritz.
The Home Mart Advantage: The Action of The Equalizer – I’m guessing if you know how to use a gun, you wouldn’t want to mess with a guy who’s in a hardware store. I’m scared of those places when people aren’t trying to kill me.
Disc Two (Blu-ray)
Home Mart: Taking Care of Business One Bolt at a Time – A store promotion with Washington’s character as the centerpiece.
Childen of the Night – A short feature on the character played by Chloë Grace Moretz as well as a bit of insight into her motivations and so forth.
Vengeance Mode with Denzel Washington and Antoine Fuqua – This is actually a pretty cool feature and the closest thing I can really associate with it is what Warner used to do with their Blu-rays. They called it “Maximum Movie Mode” in which the movie is kind of in the background, but bits of a commentary can be heard as well as some in-movie type experiences. I’d forgotten how much I missed this type of feature and am glad it’s part of the disc.
Denzel Washington: A Different Kind of Superhero – Essentially a glorified ass-kissing of Denzel, though rightfully so, and his approach to the character and his motivations therein.
Equalizer Vision: Antoine Fuqua – This is kind of the same feature as above, though this focuses on Antoine Fuqua who has worked with Washington in the past a number of time. We get a bit of information about him, what drew him to the project and his previous collaborations with Denzel.
Inside The Equalizer – Focusing mainly on Washington’s character, we get a bit of insight into bringing the show to the big screen and a bit more.
One Man Army: Training and Fighting – This one is pretty self-explanatory as it focuses on the physical demands of the role (not only Denzel’s, but the supporting cast as well), the stunt work and such.