The Equalizer (2014)

(On Cable TV, April 2015)  I don’t think you could come up with a more generic thriller premise than The Equalizer if you tried: A retired special-ops specialist takes revenge on mobsters for putting a young friend in the hospital.  That’s it.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Do you really have any doubt that our protagonist will achieve his ultimate revenge?  Faced with such a generic plot, The Equalizer can only distinguish itself through competent execution.  Fortunately, it can depend on Denzel Washington to bring his usual intensity to the role, and on director Antoine Fuqua to deliver a dollop of style along the way.  The Equalizer may be strikingly unoriginal, entirely linear and far too violent, but after a slow first act, it escalates the tension steadily, showcases Washington’s steely resolve and delivers the bloody vengeance as expected.  The last act (set within a home-improvement store) seems far too long if you’re not entirely invested in the kind of carnography in which a dozen opponents get dispatched in various ways.  But it’s not sloppy, slapdash or accidental: The Equalizer is exactly the kind of movie it wants to be, and it ought to satisfy those who are looking for exactly that.

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