Sep 11, 2023
Denzel Washington, Dakota Fanning
Denzel Washington has an outstanding CV but was missing ‘action hero’ from his collection of accolades. Something like ‘Die Hard’ or ‘Lethal Weapon’ would be just the job to demonstrate his undoubted versatility. That was remedied by the Equaliser (2014) and its sequel in 2018. Now in a convenient quarterly cycle we have the third instalment. The franchise is based on an original TV series starring Edward Woodward as retired intelligence agent Robert McCall. Our hero has a dark past but forges a new existence protecting the innocent against the mad, bad and dangerous.
A train of events take McCall (Denzel Washington) to a small town in Southern Italy where he decides to settle. But old habits are hard to break and he reports evidence of a criminal network to CIA operative Emma Collins (Dakota Fanning). The Camorra soon come calling and begin to intimidate the locals. But they hadn’t reckoned with McCall and the unique skill sets he can bring to the party.
Equaliser 3 is typical of a franchise insofar all memory of the previous one disappears when you watch the current release. Not that it’s necessary to watch previous editions to enjoy this film. It gains more credibility because it has a strong leading man; Washington doesn’t let the visuals do all the work, and builds a strong character that smacks of the world weary agent who can’t leave his old life behind him
Amidst the slick designer violence is a coherent story that has the feel of a modern Western. The tale of a stranger in town protecting the weak from the strong is the template for many films in the genre especially the Magnificent Seven. It also evokes memories of Clint Eastwood's memorable portrayal of the man with no name. There is resonance with the moody presence of McCall, who rarely utters his own name perhaps in silent tribute to his predecessor.
There are moments of genuine tension, where McCall shows controlled aggression and a minimal use of dialogue to make his point. The bad guys have met their match, and the audience are left in no doubt as to whose side they should be on. Washington raises this film above the usual action movie caper which has been made countless times before. The Amalfi Coast of Italy provides a stunning backdrop and is the perfect location for a holiday. But if you do go make sure Robert McCall's in the vicinity.