"I am offering you a chance to do the right thing. Take it."
With the exception of Training Day, which I absolutely loved, Antoine Fuqua hadn't directed a film that merited much acknowledgement. Being able to team up with Denzel Washington once again definitely attracted many people's attention towards this project, but if they were expecting The Equalizer to replicate the success of Training Day then they'll be disappointed because what they get with this film is a standard, by the books action thriller. It plays out like most revenge thrillers do and it follows the standard formula of the genre in such a way that you can easily predict the outcome of most of the film. What The Equalizer does have going for it however is the presence of Denzel Washington in the titular role playing a character with a particular set of skills. Washington is solid and he elevates this generic film in such a way that he manages to keep us entertained. There is something cool about his character and he portrays that interior smoothness very well here. His character may seem calm and friendly in the surface, but when it comes to helping the weak there is no one who can serve them justice better than him. His character will easily remind people of Liam Neeson in Taken, or even Tom Cruise in Jack Reacher although Washington's character is much more likable. The film also takes its time to set things up and it works to the films advantage here; I would even say the buildup is much stronger than the execution. The stylized violence is also present in this Fuqua film and I enjoyed the overall look of the film with the underlying score setting the tone. The Equalizer reminded me a lot of Man on Fire, which was a film I really loved so if you were a fan of it as well you might want to check this out. It is very similar in structure and I would go as far as saying that it has a superhero movie feel to it as well.
I have seen over 20 films starring Denzel Washington and I yet haven't seen one I disliked. Sure, there were some average films he made, but never have I been disappointed by his movies. I know The Equalizer isn't groundbreaking and I shouldn't have enjoyed it as much as I did because it is full of cliches, but it was impossible for me to resist Washington's charm once again. He gives a solid performance in this action thriller and he carries the film. The female characters are all portrayed as victims here once again, but Chloe Grace Moretz sells her character very well. She has some solid scenes with Washington at the beginning of the film which help set the premise of the film. Melissa Leo could have been the strongest female character in the film, but she only has a brief appearance. This is basically a one man show with Washington personifying coolness. Marton Csokas is set up as a pretty strong villain during the first half of the film, but he could have been better used in the second half. Csokas is Washington's counterpart (kind of like what The Joker was to Batman) and the buildup to the face-off is what works best in this film. I had a great time with this action thriller despite all its flaws.