starring Denzel Washington, Marton Csokas, Chloë Grace Moretz, David Harbour, Haley Bennett, Melissa Leo and Bill Pullman
written by Richard Wenk
directed by Antoine Fuqua
Based on the television series created by Michael Sloan and Richard Lindheim, Bob McCall (Denzel Washington) is an extremely quiet, well-mannered, nattily-dressed man. Bob reads hardcover classic literature and lives alone in an apartment so clean and bare that it’s almost Japanese. He holds an eminently nondescript job at a Home Mart hardware superstore and he’s politely friendly with everyone - a model employee. But Bob has a great secret. He’s a retired secret agent whose death was faked so that he could live in happy obscurity. Even in retirement, though, he lives a very guarded life, like Bruce Willis in RED (2010, directed by Robert Schwentke). No one suspects his true identity until he accidentally gets involved with a Russian gang whose underworld activities in Boston begin to impinge on his life. Bob doesn’t go looking for trouble, but when trouble finds him he is more than capable of taking out the entire heavily-armed Russian mafia single-handed. He is not an Angel of Death but an Avenging Angel. He’s a superhero standing up for virtue.
The Russian mafia in this story is some kind of super-evil entity, led by a corrupt oligarch in Moscow, Vladimir Pushkin. Pushkin has an elaborate and lucrative network of crime in America that includes corrupt police and politicians. After Bob kills a group of his pimps in a Boston restaurant Pushkin sends his enforcer, Teddy/Nicolai, to set it right. Teddy is the Angel of Death. He’s a psychopath with a business card. He’s very polite, but he kills everything in his path. Why not? He’s a psychopath.
The problem with this film is that it starts way too slow. Denzel Washington delivers a strong performance, but the slow pace - which is meant to augment Bob’s personality - only made me impatient. Bob is slow; he’s patient; he’s meticulous and focused; he’s precise and he’s calm even in the most dangerous situations - like when he’s alone in a room full of snarly, ready-to-kill Russians. Bob leaves his fingerprints all over the movie. Maybe he’s just too cool to have fingerprints, or maybe the local police don’t know how to use fingerprints to identify suspects.
The climax comes in the end when Teddy lures Bob to his Home Mart superstore by holding his workplace friends hostage there. Bob proceeds to kill everyone using only simple home hardware equipment he pulls from the shelves - saws and nails, wire and the like against automatic weapons. It’s neat. I have to recommend The Equalizer to one of my brothers who works in a hardware store.
I don’t understand why Bill Pullman is in this film. I watched it twice.