The Equalizer is Denzel Washington's latest movie, and it is a stunning meditation on the will to do damage when damage has been done. It's the story of a man who defies the notion of standing silent when corruption is loud. His character, Robert McCall is the ultimate sheepdog, and over the course of the beautifully shot movie, he takes down an entire pack of wolves.
This film is one of several that has DW in my favorite kind of action movie, that with spies, close combat and revenge. But unlike all of the rest of his characters and unlike most action heroes, Washington's McCall has no problem living an ordinary life. He is adjusted to his domestic solitude and to his workaday world at the local Home Depot. He's not compartmentalized, he's comfortable. He is not haunted by dreams, he simply remembers. He remembers his skills, his deadly skills.
What's striking about 'The Equalizer' is how American it is. It touches home on a number of themes on what it means to succeed in America and the sacrifices so many people make to fit into slots. McCall says no. You can be what you want to be, simply by doing the right thing. He seeks in everyone a simple unity of mind, body and spirit. Not complicated, not easy, but ultimately necessary. This is what it takes to own yourself, and yet when people lose their way they become owned by those who accept that evil is what men do. In the end, there is the psychopath who thinks nothing of human life, and there is the hero who knows very well it's precious value.
What McCall knows is what many of us forget. That it takes violent action to take down violen men. It is what make his Equalizer so extraordinary, his relentless war against all those connected in a chain of perfidy. We are accustomed to moving somewhat against those who would threaten our friends and family. When things get ugly we never expect restitution all the way up. We are conditioned to small bites of justice. Not so in McCall's world. There is no such thing as insurance. You obey or you lose it all. You cannot buy your way out - you make a choice to do or die. In this Denzel is perfectly matched against an antagonist who is the best villian since Gary Oldman's Detective Stansfield in 'The Professional'. The performance by Marton Csokas as the head enforcer of a Russian Oligarch is brilliantly cold, cunning and ruthless. Denzel sees through him though. Sees him for the psychopath that he is; sees that he follows orders simply because they give license to his desire to reduce anyone to zero.
Washington's McCall is a deadly patriot, removed from the field of play who cannot forget the stakes the game, and gets his hands bloody for the sake of the common man. The film makes a bold statement about morality we ought to keep in mind.