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‘The Equalizer’ Reviews: Are Critics ‘Taken’ With Denzel Washington’s Latest?


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MTV News Reports:

Hell hath no fury like a special-ops retiree scorned.

Academy Award winner Denzel Washington lends his gravitas to this weekend’s new action movie “The Equalizer,” directed by Antoine Fuqua, and based on the television show of the same name. It stars Washington as a former super-soldier who reenters the world of action and intrigue, squaring off against a Russian nightmare named Teddy (Marton Csokas), and a city filled with corrupt cops.

By some accounts, “The Equalizer” is to Washington as “Taken” is to Liam Neeson — your mileage may vary on whether or not that’s a bad thing. Here’s what critics have to say about Washington’s latest:

The Story
“Very loosely inspired by the 1980s TV show, ‘The Equalizer’ introduces Washington as a kindly senior citizen who works at a Home Depot (which isn’t called that, for reasons that will become evident) in Boston. But when Russian mobsters severely beat up a prostitute (Chloe Moritz) whom he regularly encounters at his favorite coffee shop after work, Washington decides to employ his old skills, which are quite considerable, to rid the city of the Russian criminals, who are in cahoots with local cops.” — Lou Lumenick, New York Post

The Action Hero
“Washington is terrific here, a blue-collar Bourne far from the champagne sophistication of Bond, his astonishing physicality springing out in his action scenes and in his decisive moments while still suggesting the calm, collected thought before each brief burst of violence. Washington is that rarity: an action-film star capable of gravitas and feeling, an actor capable of selling fight sequences and carefully contemplated plans that form in the instant between seconds.” — James Rocchi, TheWrap.com

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The Cool Factor
“Denzel Washington doesn’t have to say a word. He can do more with a move, a head tilt, a shot of fire in the eye than most actors do with pages of dialogue. That’s a star, baby. … Washington, as ever, is the essence of cool.” — Peter Travers, RollingStone.com

The Superhero Structure
“‘The Equalizer’ is not a superhero movie in the traditional sense, but it might-as-well be. Denzel Washington doesn’t play a character with super powers, unless you count ‘being really good at killing people’ as a super power. But the film has the structure and function of what amounts to a superhero origin story, or a somewhat lengthy television pilot. That’s not a criticism (many franchise-starters feel like two-part television pilot episodes), merely a statement of purpose as Sony clearly has franchise designs for a character that is basically ‘generic Denzel Washington killing machine.’ The film spends as much time establishing his world and his supporting cast as it does setting up its core hero. Of course ‘generic Denzel Washington killing machine’ remains a pretty entertaining and compelling screen presence, which means ‘The Equalizer’ is rarely less-then-engaging even as it’s checking off boxes.” — Scott Mendelson,Forbes

The Slow Burn
“Perhaps the best thing about ‘The Equalizer’ is how long it takes to reveal what everyone watching it knows from the start. … Eventually, he’s going to kill someone, of course, but before he does, ‘The Equalizer’ is disarmingly quiet, almost as if it were committed to remaining the low-key, lower-middle-class character study that nobody in the theater has bought a ticket to see.” — A.O. Scott, The New York Times

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Spy vs. Spy
“The best parts of ‘The Equalizer’ are the scenes in which McCall and Teddy talk to each other. It’s one of those I-know-that-you-know-that-I-know situations, and the two actors are outstanding. They create a nice tension, and you wish there were more meetings of the minds, as it were, and maybe a little less mayhem. A final showdown in the hardware store means lots of interesting uses for tools, but even that isn’t as entertaining as the quietly threatening exchanges between McCall and Teddy.” — Bill Goodykoontz, The Arizona Republic

The Final Word
“It’s almost as if the good bad old days of the Cold War are here again in ‘The Equalizer,’ in which Denzel Washington’s former intelligence op kicks more nasty Russian ass than anyone has onscreen since James Bond. The comparison is not an idle one, since this updating of the fondly remembered late-80s TV show is the most exciting, violent and stylish film of its type in a very long while. Viscerally satisfying on a primal level, the star’s reunion with his ‘Training Day’ director Antoine Fuqua looks to be such a commercial success that a sequel, said to be already in the works, should be put on the Sony fast track.” — Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter

“The Equalizer” is in theaters now.

 

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