Denzel Washington and Liam Neeson have truly cornered the market when it comes to movies about guys in their 50’s and 60’s kicking ass. While Liam Neeson cemented his status as action hero with the Taken franchise, Washington has claimed The Equalizer series for his own. Loosely based on the 80’s television series headlined by Edward Woodward, The Equalizer sees the Oscar-winning star of Training Day as Robert McCall, a former Marine and intelligence agent helping those who cannot seek help from the proper authorities. No relation to the Queen Latifah-led reboot currently airing on CBS.
The first Equalizer film finds McCall living a quiet life in Boston, having giving up his previous career following the death of his wife. He works as the unassuming manager of a hardware superstore in Boston, but is forced to return to his old ways after running afoul of the Russian mob.
In the second installment, our hero has accepted his calling to help those in need while keeping his nose close to the grindstone as a rideshare driver. McCall takes on a variety of tasks such as rescuing a kidnapped girl from Istanbul to reuniting a Holocaust survivor with his long-lost sister.
The Equalizer 3 begins with McCall in Sicily though he’s hardly there to sample the sumptuous cuisine. He’s there to take out crime boss Lorenzo Vitale (Bruno Bilotta), who has earned his fortune through cyberscams. In addition, he’s got a side hustle dealing drugs to fund terrorists. McCall is left seriously wounded after the confrontation and is eventually found by local police officer Gio Bonucci (Eugenio Mastrandres). He’s nursed back to health by Enzo Arisio (Remo Girone), the elderly doctor for the small town of Altamonte. McCall quickly finds himself enjoying the quiet life there, even befriending a pretty cafe owner named Aminah (Gaia Scodellaro). The seaside region is beautifully captured by renowned cinematographer Robert Richardson (Platoon, Casino, Kill Bill).
Unfortunately, the peace in this picturesque town is interrupted by the Camorra, a crime syndicate led by brothers Marco and Vincent (Andrea Dodero & Andrea Scarduzio). Marco is forcing local residents to sell their properties in order to transform the coastal region into a resort crammed with hotels and casinos. When the brothers begin burning businesses and assaulting citizens, the world weary McCall decides to take matters into his own hands in order to earn a peaceful retirement.
Part of the fun of these Equalizer movies are the well-crafted fight scenes in which McCall assesses the situation, activates his stopwatch, and systematically dispatching his opponents. McCall is brutal and precise when it comes to snapping bones or even stabbing a guy through the eye socket with his own revolver. While the first film established McCall-Vision, Equalizer 3 seems to take it for granted and just plow right into the action sequences, which are almost over before they begin.
The villains themselves are cardboard cutouts, instantly forgettable and existing only to be fodder for the title character. None of them remotely stand a chance against McCall, but that is one of the appealing factors in this franchise. The third act builds to a final confrontation in which McCall stalks the bad guys like the unstoppable slasher from an 80’s horror flick.
The Equalizer revolves almost entirely around the charisma and screen presence of Denzel Washington. He’s the rare actor who could recite the phone book for two hours and make it riveting. This latest sequel has the added appeal of reuniting Washington with Dakota Fanning, his young co-star from Man on Fire. She co-stars as a CIA analyst investigating the aftermath of McCall’s handiwork.
The video is presented in 1080p with an aspect ratio of 2.39:1. The transfer is immaculate though not particularly vibrant as the filmmakers chose a darkened palette with cold hues.
The audio is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. The dialogue and atmosphere come in crisp, but it’s the action scenes and score by Marcelo Zarvos where the sound really shines. Every impactful body blow and gunshot sounds thunderous.
Blood Brothers: The Collaboration of Denzel Washington & Antoine Fuqua (6:30) is a brief look at the director and actor’s working relationship.
Call to Action (6:03) is a featurette that focuses on the fights and stunts of the movie.
Robert McCall: A Man of the People (6:33) looks at McCall’s character and how he fits in with the people of Altamonte.
Denzel and Dakota: A Reunion (5:06) sees the two actors discuss what it’s like to work together again after two decades.
Postcards from the Amalfi Coast (5:30) features sound bites from the cast and crew as they discuss the authentic Italian locations.
Rounding out the bonus features are a selection of deleted scenes and a music video for the song “Monster” by Jacon Banks.
Film Value: 7
It’s hard for a franchise to maintain quality. The Equalizer 3 is a solid action film that ranks at the bottom of the trilogy. It’s well-acted and well-executed, but lacks compelling villains and truly memorable action scenes. Still, a fun potboiler buoyed by the star power of Denzel Washington.