Denzel Washington deserves the accolade of being one of the greatest actors of our cinematic generation. Any project he is associated with, to the best of my memory, never ventured into any viable territory of declining quality. I cannot think of a single film that I have not enjoyed with Washington either leading or being part of the supporting cast.
"The Equalizer" trilogy is based on the popular TV series of the same name, centering on the story of a mysterious figure using his skills as a former government agent to become a voice for the voiceless and assist the helpless. It is one of the darker espionage shows of the '80s. Director Antoine Fuqua revitalized the storyline in an unexpected manner, amplifying the suspense, action, violence and intensity, along with maintaining the mysterious espionage that made the show memorable.
Washington returns as Robert McCall, continuing his path of helping those unable to help themselves with his interesting, brutal, precise and organized set of skills that would make Bryan Mills from "Taken" recoil in fright. "The Equalizer 3" has McCall living in a small Italian community healing from injuries, living in harmonious peace for the first time in his existence. The small town in Italy has fallen victim to a ruthless mafia organization infiltrating all aspects of law enforcement, local and major governments, using violent intimidation tactics in establishing control of the community.
Each "Equalizer" film brings a different concept to the forefront. For example, the first film is more action oriented, introducing the universe of the Equalizer. Its sequel brought more character development, whereas this final outing is definitively far more brutal, violent, gory, intense and even flirts with utilizing cinematic methods like a horror suspense film.
Third cinematic outings in an established franchise typically are viewed as the weakest depending on the emotionality and stakes of the concept. One of the beautiful dynamics about "Equalizer" is how it is set within a realistic, grounded perspective without the desire to branch into the spectacle of over-the-top violence and stunts. Every single sequence captured on camera is a deliberate piece of action that is very possible in relation to a former veteran government agent.
"The Equalizer 3" is the best of the trilogy with its ability to provide more than the usual action spectacle. There are myriad moments when there is nonstop brutality with McCall in combat, before shifting gears with him interacting with the community, introducing the Italian mafia members and his newfound connection to a CIA financial agent with whom he has a personal interest in supplying clues and important information. One of the major highlights is the dialogue between Washington and Dakota Fanning, reuniting after their work in the underrated action thriller "Man on Fire," which is another fantastic film I highly recommend. Fair warning: If the expectation is a two-hour-plus adventure of nonstop action from beginning to end, chances are very high that viewers will be disappointed, although on the side of the equation, Washington films are never boring - nor does it feel as if it is a waste of time. The chemistry he has with Fanning is obvious with their playful teasing type of dialogue that fits the definition of absolutely amusing. I would have loved for them to share more screen time with one another.
Another satisfying component is the removal of villains having any significant tragic backstory creating sympathy for the characters. None of them has redeeming qualities. A frightening dynamic is establishing villains that know they're reprehensible without any remorse for their deeds. That is what Fuqua captured with this direction of making the villains of the story evil without excuses. It is widely accepted that any Washington film will have elite acting, as he is obviously one of the best. He brings his best performance in the "Equalizer" series, injecting more of an unhinged, silent-rage demeanor that had me frightened during several moments.
There is nothing more terrifying than an individual poised to bring the demise of others if he or she has nothing to lose. Washington brings a unique display of emotions that are seemingly like a horror monster hiding in the shadows. Perhaps the best description, for anyone familiar with the phrase, is, "It is speculated that man stared into the darkness, and the abyss blinked." McCall, in my eyes, despite being the hero of the synopsis, could be viewed as the monster in the darkness waiting to bring about his own traditional sense of justice.
The final sequence is where the horror elements are made obvious, particularly for a horror fanatic such as myself. I found it glorious how Fuqua flirted with the horror suspense concept, making Washington appear horrifically frightening in my opinion. This simply is my favorite film of the trilogy. It is the reason I and others go to the movie theater, as it involves proper escapism, espionage, action, powerful and emotional acting and exciting suspense. Washington once again knocks it out of the park, adding another worthy addition to his already impressive filmography.
"The Equalizer 3" is why watching films in an auditorium is necessary, defining this outing as a another must see. My final rating is 10/10 and a resounding two thumbs up. Washington cannot do anything wrong in my eyes. I would gladly sit for two hours to three hours watching him read the phonebook from cover to cover without pausing. That is how much I admire the talent and filmography of Washington.
To watch Isaiah Ridley's movie reviews online, find him @Izzy's Cinematic Escape on YouTube.
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