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Antoine Fuqua
Denzel Washington, Chloe Grace Moretz, Marton Czokas, David Harbour, Haley Bennett, Bill Pullman, Melissa Leo
Writing Credits:
Richard Wenk

A man believes he has put his mysterious past behind him and has dedicated himself to beginning a new, quiet life. But when he meets a young girl under the control of ultra-violent Russian gangsters, he can't stand idly by - he has to help her.

Box Office:
$55 million.
Opening Weekend
$34,137,828 on 3236 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 7.1
English Descriptive Audio Service
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 132 min.
Price: $34.99
Release Date: 12/30/2014

• “Vengeance Mode” Interactive Feature
• “Inside The Equalizer” Featurette
• “Denzel Washington: A Different Kind of Superhero” Featurette
• “Equalizer Vision” Featurette
• “Children of the Night” Featurette
• “One Man Army” Featurette
• “Home Mart: Taking Care of Business One Bolt at a Time” Featurette
• Photo Gallery
• Previews


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


The Equalizer [Blu-Ray] (2014)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 16, 2014)

With 2014’s The Equalizer, the old 1980s TV series gets a cinematic reboot. Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) leads a solitary life, and the insomniac often finds himself alone with a book at a local NYC diner in the middle of the night. During these nocturnal visits, McCall gets to know Alina (Chloe Grace Moretz), a teenage prostitute controlled by the Russian Mafia.

McCall becomes involved when Alina’s pimp Slavi (David Meunier) beats her and sends her to the hospital. When McCall attempts to buy Alina’s freedom, Slavi refuses and violence ensues.

A trained warrior with an unclear background, McCall makes quick work of Slavi and his compatriots. This action sets up future conflicts, as the Russian Mafia doesn’t take kindly to such treatment. We follow McCall's attempts to deal with these threats, particularly how they involve Russian enforcer Teddy (Marton Csokas).

If nothing else, Equalizer deserves credit for the manner in which it expands the original TV franchise. Obviously it goes down a radically different casting path, as New Yorker Washington bears no resemblance to Edward Woodward, the British actor who played McCall in the 80s.

In addition, the cinematic Equalizer becomes a much more brutal affair than anything seen – or even implied – on the TV show. Make no mistake: Equalizer takes full advantage of its “R”-rating with multiple scenes of graphic violence.

While these may lend a sense of realism, they can be a bit much to take. I understand the desire to give Equalizer a rough edge, but I don’t think it requires the rampant array of gory scenes it displays. These tend to distract from the story more than add to it.

Not that Equalizer delivers much of a narrative. In truth, it feels like a prequel, as it sets up McCall to become the “avenger for the needy” seen on the TV series. This means an iconic moment at the movie’s end, a factor that adds to my view of the film as something of an “origin story”.

Usually in an introductory tale such as this, we’d get lots of exposition. Some of that shows up along the way, but Equalizer largely maintains McCall as a semi-mysterious figure all the way to the end.

I don’t mind that lack of character definition, as some secrets keep McCall interesting, but Equalizer could use a better-defined plot. In essence we get little more than two-plus hours of revenge and violence. McCall sets on his mission and follows through until its completion – game, set, match. Any other developments become incidental at best.

While I enjoy action flicks, I think they work best when they come with a good story; all the vivid mayhem in the world doesn’t add up to much if it comes without characters and a story to involve us. Equalizer doesn’t flop in that regard, but it does leave us without a lot to motivate our interest. We maintain moderate attachment to McCall and Alina but I don’t know if we care quite enough to keep us with a story that doesn’t tend to go much of anywhere.

Still, Equalizer does execute some good action. Even with the excessive violence, it can be entertaining to watch Washington kick butt and take names. He doesn’t do much to stretch his talents as McCall, but he adds solid weight and weariness to the role.

Between Washington and a mix of vivid fights, Equalizer mostly keeps us with it. That said, it doesn’t live up to its potential, as it tends to be a bit monotonous and wears out some of its welcome by the end. I think the movie has its merits but it doesn’t engage on a consistent basis.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio A-/ Bonus C-

The Equalizer appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Across the board, this was an appealing transfer.

Sharpness always looked strong. No signs of softness marred the presentation, as it gave us a tight, well-defined image. Jagged edges and moiré effects remained absent, while edge haloes and digital noise reduction also failed to appear. Print flaws stayed absent as well.

Like most modern films of this sort, Equalizer went with teal and orange. These tones seemed predictable, but they worked fine within the movie’s design parameters and showed good delineation. Blacks were dark and tight, while shadows usually showed nice clarity and smoothness; a few scenes were a bit dense, but those weren’t an issue. I felt this was a consistently strong image.

I also felt pleased with the film’s DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack. With a fair amount of action on display, the mix used the channels in an involving manner throughout the majority of the film. This meant cars, gunfire and other mayhem all around the room, and the elements connected in a concise, smooth manner. Add to that music as a bold partner and the soundscape turned into an aggressive partner.

Audio quality always satisfied. Music was dynamic and full, and effects followed suit; those components came across as accurate and wel-developed. Speech seemed distinctive and crisp, without edginess or other issues. Everything impressed in this strong soundtrack.

The Blu-ray comes with a decent array of extras, and we start with an interactive feature called Vengeance Mode. With this activated, the movie branches off nine times to present featurettes about the production. All together, the clips add up to 22 minutes, 35 seconds of material.

In these, we hear from director Antoine Fuqua and actors Denzel Washington as they discuss story and characters, cast and performances, themes and visual motifs, fight choreography and stunts, and related areas.

The content of “Vengeance Mode” works pretty well, as Fuqua and Washington offer a mix of useful details. However, the format leaves a lot to be desired, as it creates persistent, annoying interruptions during the film. This would work better as a traditional interview featurette, and at the very least, the Blu-ray should’ve given us a way to watch the material separate from the movie.

Six featurettes follow. Inside The Equalizer goes for seven minutes, 51 seconds and provides info from Washington, Fuqua, screenwriter Richard Wenk, producers Jason Blumenthal and Todd Black, and actors Melissa Leo, Chloe Grace Moretz, David Harbour and Bill Pullman. “Inside” looks at story and characters. It doesn’t tell us much we don’t already know.

During the six-minute, 56-second Denzel Washington: A Different Kind of Superhero, we hear from Washington, Moretz, Harbour, Leo, Blumenthal, Black, Fuqua, Wenk, Pullman and actor Marton Csokas. “Superhero” examines Washington’s casting and his work in the movie. A few decent thoughts emerge, but the show mostly praises Washington.

With Equalizer Vision, we see a seven minute, six second piece that gives us details from Fuqua, Black, Blumenthal, Washington, Wenk, Leo, Pullman, Harbour, Moretz, and Csokas. This one views Fuqua’s impact on the production, with an emphasis on the lead character. Some interesting elements show up here, even with a fair amount of happy talk.

Next comes the five-minute, 23-second Children of the Night. It features Blumenthal, Black, Fuqua, Moretz, Washington and Wenk. We learn about Moretz’s role and performance as well as info about teen prostitutes. This becomes another unexceptional piece with a few good notes.

One Man Army lasts six minutes, 40 seconds and offers material from Blumenthal, Fuqua, Washington, Wenk, and stunt coordinator Keith Woulard. “Army” tells us about the movie’s action and fight material. Despite its brevity, this becomes a pretty informative featurette.

Finally, Home Mart: Taking Care of Business One Bolt at a Time fills two minutes, 11 seconds. It provides a fake ad for Home Mart that uses movie scenes in a cute way. It gives us a clever promo piece.

A Still Gallery offers 52 photos. These give us shots from the movie and from the set. Nothing here shines, but I do like the interface; it offers thumbnails at the bottom of the screen, and these make it much easier than usual to find specific images.

The disc opens with ads for Fury, No Good Deed, Foxcatcher, When the Game Stands Tall, Powers and Predestination. No trailer for Equalizer appears here.

A mixed bag, The Equalizer expands the TV series in an intriguing manner and comes with good performances and action. However, it plods a lot of the time due to the lack of interesting story, and its graphic violence can be a bit tough to take. The Blu-ray brings us very good picture and audio with an erratic set of supplements. Equalizer has its moments but lacks consistency.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.3703 Stars Number of Votes: 27
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