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A man who has retired from working for the government finds his work family threatened, as well as this young woman who he tries to give a little faith to.
Trigger Warning(s): Depictions of torture and up close murders
Review (with Spoilers)
It can be argued that when it comes to Black actors who are well established, like Denzel Washington, Will Smith, Samuel L. Jackson, and Forest Whitaker, that they all have found a certain comfort zone in their acting choices. However, while on paper it may make seeing them in similar roles over and over bland, while viewing the movie you often are reminded why they are allowed this amount of comfort in the first place. For while many will compare this film to Man on Fire, which honestly it only has similarities to since it is Denzel going on a rampage to save a white girl, that is where the comparisons begin and end.
Characters & Story
Robert (Denzel Washington) works at Home Depot and has found himself to be the father figure around the place. The young dudes idolize him and want to know what he did before working there, the women find him attractive, and he treats them all with respect, a bit of charm and, whether asked or not, he will help them anyway possible. Like with Ralphie (Johnny Skourtis), he helps him go from working the floor to being Home Depot security, and then with Teri, real name Alina (Chloe Grace Moretz), he helps her believe in herself, as well as give her a second chance. Something which isn’t easy to do for with Teri being young, beautiful, and worth a lot of money, her pimp Slavi (David Meunier) doesn’t want to let her go. So, Robert tries to help her. Thing is, as Robert tries to help her he gets involved with the whole business which got Teri to America in the first place. Meaning he has to climb the chain in order to regain any sense of peace in his life.
Leading to the main story of the film which deals with Robert taking on the Russian mafia, headed by Vladimir Pushkin (Vladimir Julich), a well-connected gangster, and his enforcer/ fixer Teddy (Marton Csokas). But, as well trained and talented as Robert is, he does show signs of aging. Leading you to wonder, in his quest to free one girl from human trafficking, how will he ultimately find peace? With a bullet in the head, but her free? With the snake’s head cut off and him going back to being just an unknown face? Or will he find himself without peace for as he tries to climb the ladder, those he loved and wanted to protect end up falling off the roof?
In this film, Washington reminds you why his career spans over 30 years and why he is considered a legend in the film business. For while the story, as a whole, doesn’t do anything drastically new or different from films with a similar premise, Washington puts his mark on it in such a way that he leaves you feeling the genre has found a new standard to live up to. For Robert is a man who you can see is conflicted about what he does, wants to create the sort of normalcy he sacrificed for most of his life, but at the same time, he can’t stop being the man who takes care of people when in need. Be it this kid at work who wants to be something more than he is, or this little girl who has lived a hard life but dreams that she can escape it and become better.
Now, as for the action elements of the movie, truly if you are squeamish you may want to be careful with this one for this is a violent movie. For with Robert having this Sherlock Holmes, Robert Downey Jr.’s, version, of slowing down time to analyze things, and then really going all out, including using a wine opener to kill someone and us seeing the wine opener in the mouth of someone Robert just stabbed in the jaw, truly the film does get graphic.
And while Washington deserves much praise, I feel you must also praise Csokas too for being a credible villain. If just because his performance, and the build of his character, is so good you honestly think when he and Washington go one on one, there is a more likely chance of them both dying than Washington being alive after their battle. Something which is hard to do since Washington is at the point in his career where it almost feels like there won’t be any surprises when it comes to his character. He is either going to live until the end or somehow come up on top. However, Csokas makes you question Washington’s celebrity having an effect on whether Robert will live or die.
First and foremost, I’m rather tired of Russian villains with the names Vladimir, Dmitri, and just Russian bad guys period. It’s overdone, and at this point feels kind of lazy. Though the film in itself is very basic and only elevated due to strong performances. However, if anyone else was cast as Robert or Teddy, this film would probably be a straight to VoD release. Mostly because, as lovable as Robert is, you don’t get any sort of concrete details about him. You learn he worked for the government, had a wife, but pretty much that is where things end. Robert, for the most part, is as unknown to us in the end as he was in the beginning.
Overall: Worth Seeing
Between Washington and Csokas, I feel future action crime thrillers need to take note. For as previously noted, this film takes all the basic elements very familiar to movie lovers and pushes the bar up. Leading to a “Worth Seeing” label from me.
“Think progress, not perfection.”
— The Equalizer
“We make the wrong choices to get to the right path.”
— The Equalizer
“When you pray for rain, you got to deal with the mud too.”
— The Equalizer