Monday, 9 March 2015

The Equalizer (2014)

A movie based on an old late 80's American TV series but only very thinly. It is in fact more of an origins plot showing how the main character becomes a vigilante for hire...or The Equalizer. The actual story we see here and the main character are nothing to do with the original TV show (unless this plot is similar to a certain episode I don't know).

The premise is a very simple one. Retired black ops government agent McCall (Washington) is friends with a hooker called Alina (Moretz), Alina is working for the Russian mob. One night McCall witnesses some of the gang members abuse Alina and a few days later she turns up in hospital badly beaten. This upsets McCall so he visits the head of the local Russian mob and offers to buy her freedom, the bad guys basically laugh at he kills them all. Thusly a war is started between McCall and the Russian mob.

This movie bears a striking similarity to another glossy revenge thriller...'John Wick', very similar in fact. There Wick goes on the warpath over his dead puppy, here McCall goes on the warpath over a rather sleazy looking lady of the night. The puppy I can understand because everyone likes puppies/dogs, your pet is your best friend, part of the family. The sleazy prostitute on the other hand I'm not so sure. How do you even know if this girl isn't a druggie, if you'll ever see her again, if she'll even be grateful...who can tell, risky gamble if you ask me.

So I guess McCall sees something special in this rather young prostitute and decides to put his whole life on the line despite the fact he doesn't even know her that well (from what we see). From this point on its your predictable, cliched, stereotypical one man army job with Washington killing everyone...EVERYONE! This movie is all about giving the bad guys payback so expect lots of slow motion highly impressive fight choreography that looks slick as fuck but you know damn well would probably get you nowhere in a real scuffle. Washington has obviously been trained in various techniques that we've all seen before (errr...John Wick?) and executes them flawlessly against various stereotypical Russian baddies.

Its not all about fisticuffs though, there is plenty of gun play naturally, some high-tech gadgetry and spy stuff and even some good old fashioned A-Team-esque DIY take downs utilising various objects. Actually the entire finale is set in a large Homebase (UK only) styled warehouse so obviously you know things like drills, nail guns, wire etc...will be used to snuff the villains out. I've always wondered how cool it would be to play war games in a place like that, now I know. Everything looks super stylised and well shot, lots of interesting camera angles, great lighting with lots of shadow usage, moody facial closeups, excellent gun porn, expensive cars, expensive sets etc...all the usual stuff.

As for the bad guys well its business as usual of course, these guys are tattooed Russians. Cue lots of ultra short haircuts and facial hair, big bald guys, bling, made to measure outfits and holding your gun in the coolest way possible whilst looking twitchy. Its the usual stream of henchmen cannon fodder basically, the only highlight being the main bad guy flown in to hunt down McCall...Teddy. Yep lets give him a silly soft sounding name, that's really clever of us because in fact he's a nutcase and very tough. This character (in my opinion) is simply a poor man's Agent Smith (Weaving) from 'The Matrix'. He dresses in a suit of course, he looks the same, same type of hairstyle, same type of grimaces and even kinda talks the same to a degree, Russian accent aside.

Again this movie is engaging but its not particularly good. We know McCall is a badass but he does things that seem impossible. When he kills the Russians at the start he manages to enter and leave their busy club without anyone noticing or hearing the commotion. When he sets up two crooked cops where the hell did he manage to get the CCTV of them threatening the restaurant owner originally? He pops up at locations outta nowhere and vanishes just as easily. He takes down an entire money laundering operation way too easily single handed. He manages to blow up an entire cargo ship at the docks single handed. Lastly when he had another crooked cop trapped in his car whilst flooding it with carbon monoxide why didn't the cop just break the glass or stop the window closing...its just an electric window!

Yes this is a lean mean kickass machine, its very sleek, well made and well directed, but its just too damn unoriginal. How many times have we seen this?? aside from the fact that 'John Wick' did the exact same thing around a month after this came out!! (and a bit better). The main issues...its too long and the movie is trying way too hard to be serious and gritty when basically its nonsense. McCall manages to eradicate the entire Russian crime syndicate in Boston...and then he goes to Russia and wipes them all out there too! the fuck!! If he's that good he could erase more crime syndicates single-handedly all over. You gotta ask yourself why he hasn't been used to do this before, or why he hasn't decided to do so himself if he can so easily. Seriously, he's just one retired black ops dude, imagine what a whole team could do.