The Equalizer 3

THE EQUALIZER 3 is another fine entry in Academy Award winner Denzel Washington’s only ongoing franchise. It has a very different setting than part 1 or part 2 and he’s up to slightly different things, so it’s not exactly a rehash, it’s pretty different in a way. In another way it’s exactly the same as the other two, or any number of movies starring Liam Neeson. Very solemn and serious, but also over-the-top and absurd. Kinda melancholic, but also kinda awesome. And that’s what we want. If you don’t want any part in a “we” like that then that’s fine, you know what to do.

Washington (VIRTUOSITY) stars as Roberto McCall, née Robert, former Marine and DIA officer turned pro bono bad guy slayer. In the first one he took on the Russian mafia and corrupt police while working at Brand X Home Depot, in the second one he took on mercenaries, kidnappers and gangs while working as a Lyft driver, and in this one he takes on the Camorra (afiliated with Syrian terrorists) while chilling out like a retiree in gorgeous Altamonte, Italy. He gets there by accident, though.

Do you remember how part 2 opened with McCall in disguise on a train to rescue a kidnapped child in Istanbul? This time when the movie starts he’s been involved in an equalization case at a remote winery in Sicily. It’s a hell of an opening that holds off on seeing our hero, like he’s the monster. Instead we follow as this old man, Lorenzo Vitale (Bruno Bilotta, DOUBLE TEAM), arrives at the scene. He’s got a young grandson waiting in the passenger seat but we realize he’s the boss of some nefarious operation when a terrified underling out front says, “He told me to wait outside.” They walk in and there are bodies everywhere. McCall has already committed a massacre. I love how the camera floats along to show us the details – see how this guy has a hatchet in his face? Well, he also has this slash across his torso. This guy here, notice the bloody head-sized shatter on the mirror next to him. Etc. It’s great on its own because we can imagine how McCall did all this, but also, to my delight, he later has a flashback where we see some of those kills from his POV.

Anyway, McCall is sitting patiently in the cellar with two guns pointed at him, not at all scared, and he shouldn’t be, because he will be victorious here. If you’re new to this series, it follows that popular action movie rule that if you worked for some government agency then it doesn’t matter if you’re an old man because you learned all the moves to disarm a bunch of guys and kill them real quick. It’s kind of a version of super heroes. Just as getting bit by a radioactive spider = being able to swing around and stick to walls, working for an intelligence agency = being able to make big burly guys run away because you twisted their arm the right way or knew how to pinch a certain nerve in their hand. One Weird Trick to win any fight. It’s actually the exact same mythology Seagal always used, minus having to hit or throw people very much.

You gotta allow yourself to believe in these intelligence agency super powers to accept Denzel Washington as the most unstoppable motherfucker on earth. But the genius of the casting is that it is easy to believe he’s smarter than everybody else on screen, always knows something they don’t, and is confident enough to give them a little nod or grin that notifies them of this advantage. He stares them down and half smiles and they’re like “Wait… why is he… what is he–” but it’s too late because he already knows the exact series of quick movements that will snap a bone out of their elbow and twist their gun around their back to shoot the other guy in the head and the bullet goes through and hits the third guy or whatever.

One nice detail I noticed: he spends much of each day at cafes and restaurants, and he always always always sits with his back to a wall, facing the exit, or away from the building if he’s outside. Even if the restaurant is full he somehow managed to get the table best for repelling attackers.

McCall is also OCD – he still plays with his watch and has napkin and spoon related rituals with his tea – and I assume that’s supposed to be connected to his superhuman calculations for brutal and economical violence. He seems to have lost interest in books, though. That used to be his passion. I hope he’s okay.

Back to that opening at the winery. He lets only one person live – the little boy – and the fucker shoots him in the back. So this is that thing I love, where the hero is rescued by someone in a small village and is nursed back to health and is welcomed as part of the community and then luckily he’s there because some shit goes down and he’s able to help them. Officer Gio (Eugenio Mastrandrea, A.C.A.B. – ALL COPS ARE BASTARDS) finds him passed out in his car and brings him to kind town doctor Enzo (Remo Girone, who also played an Enzo [Ferrari] in FORD V FERRARI), who generously hides that it was a bullet wound and lets him stay as a guest while he heals, and even after.

We also get that familiar old man action thing where there’s a beautiful younger woman who notices him and takes care of him and seems like a love interest but you could also interpret that they’re just good friends. She’s a waitress named Aminah (Gaia Scodellaro, That Dirty Black Bag).

Of course as he’s limping around town with a cane (which, sadly, he never uses as a weapon) he befriends the owners and workers of cafes and markets, observes them being shaken down by gangsters, and eventually gets involved. The plot could almost be a western, complete with lots of long scenes of just standing on the street watching people. There’s also a Peckinpah-like attention to the tragedy of innocent children having to witness violence. I actually wish the score by Marcelo Zarvos (BROOKLYN’S FINEST, SIN NOMBRE, AMERICAN ULTRA) had more of a spaghetti western bluster to it, but (with the exception of some noisy guitar textures that come in three or four times) he stays disappointingly mellow.

The main villains are Camorra hotshot Vincent Quaranta (Andrea Scarduzio, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – DEAD RECKONING PART ONE), who kinda looks like an Italian Daniel Bernhardt, and his eager-to-prove-himself younger brother Marco (Andrea Dodero, THOU SHALT NOT HATE), who’s part of the younger generation of newfangled gangsters with tattoos and manbuns and shit. He even has a buddy named Viking (Alessandro Pess, HOUSE OF GUCCI). Those guys do the extortion of small businesses while big brother works on a big important project, which turns out to include pushing some of the local businesses out so they can build casinos and resorts.

That evil scheme is pretty lightly sketched, but I like it. They’re not just mobsters, they’re not just aiders of terrorism (long story), they’re fucking developers intent on ruining this amazing town of winding cobblestone roads and thousand year old churches nestled between the coast and two mountains, where even humble fish sellers live the good life, sharing amazing food and wine, enjoying local festivals and football victory parades, drinking espresso in places where any direction you look could be a postcard. They want those people to leave so rich tourist gamblers can be there. Evil.

While McCall is equalizing he always has a young friend he helps out. In part 1 it was Chloe Grace Moretz and in part 2 it was Ashton Sanders (right before he starred as RZA in Wu-Tang: An American Saga). This time the young friend is nearly 30, but with the crowdpleasing touch that it’s a MAN ON FIRE reunion. McCall dials up a secret CIA number and anonymously tells agent Emma Collins (Dakota Fanning, THE CAT IN THE HAT) the location of the winery where he did that mass murder. We get the joy of watching her and her crew (including David Denman, POWER RANGERS) check out the crime scene and be like “What the fuck!?” as they discover not only all the dead people but a massive terrorist-affiliated drug operation. And then she tracks down McCall and he won’t tell her what his deal is but enjoys watching her piece it together.

For many, the most memorable thing about the series is that McCall pulled an R-rated HOME ALONE at the hardware store in part 1, making booby traps and drilling guys and shit. That tradition of sadistic violence continues in some pretty funny ways here. You know kinda how the story will go, but a couple times it’s like “Oh fuck, he’s just gonna murder that guy already?” And he has pretty much a straight up Jason Voorhees sequence, sneaking through a dark mansion, slashing motherfuckers, appearing out of nowhere in a flash of lightning, stabbing a guy with a fire poker, even setting up that time honored slasher movie prank where the victim puts his hand on a friend’s shoulder and starts to turn him around and suddenly the friend’s head falls clean off. Gotcha!

Another one I really appreciate is when McCall does the classic Jason move of throwing a dead body through a window to scare the shit out of somebody, but the victim here is a rich mobster in Italy so it’s through a huge stained glass window over the guy’s bed!

One thing he does that would even be cold for Jason is he leans down to look straight into a guy’s eyes as he dies. Can you imagine how it would feel for Denzel to give you a cold stare for any reason, let alone because he wants to see the life leave your body? It’s pretty fucked up!

Interestingly, McCall’s prime target winds up in kind of a John McClane situation, barefoot and stepping on shards of glass, and he gets a machine gun (ho ho ho) but doesn’t jump out the window with a hose or anything. My favorite touch is that he torments all these humble people in order to live surrounded by all this extravagance – sculptures and paintings and stuff – but when McCall comes for him he panics and starts blindly shooting everywhere, destroying all of it, just like he would destroy the town for money if he had his way. You could dismiss McCall as a tourist (Vincent keeps disgustedly addressing him as “American”), but the locals have accepted him as one of their own – they explicitly told him that! – and he gets Altamonte more than the fucking Quarantas do. So he tells them he’s gonna live there now and they’re gonna have to go do business somewhere else. When they refuse they gotta get equalized.

It’s hard to even say there are fight scenes, because it’s just these quick stabbings and arm twistings and off screen murders, but the stunt coordinator/second unit director is Liang Yang, a veteran of several STAR WARSes and MISSIONs IMPOSSIBLE and controversial comic book movies (WONDER WOMAN 1984, MORBIUS, DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS). The d.p. is Robert Richardson – Oliver Stone’s guy who became Scorsese’s guy and then Tarantino’s guy. The editor is Fuqua’s usual, Conrad Buff IV, who previously did James Cameron’s THE ABYSS, T2, TRUE LIES and TITANIC.

The plot is always pretty much what you expect, but there are a couple good shocks and exclamation points and parts where you gotta laugh because it goes further than good taste dictates. And then it left me smiling because the story wraps up so nicely. There are two reveals at the end that are kinda like two punchlines. One is a connection to the previous movies, the other an explanation of what exactly McCall was after in the winery at the beginning, and for who. Basically (non-specific spoiler) he was doing a random act of kindness and accidentally uncovered a massive terrorist-funding drug operation on the side. At the beginning of the movie he didn’t know how to answer Enzo’s question “Are you a good man?,” but the movie argues that yes, in fact he’s maybe the good-est man ever, at least among those with high body counts to their names. I gotta give props to writer Richard Wenk, who has an unbelievable resume of meat and potatoes 21st century action movies: 16 BLOCKS, THE MECHANIC, THE EXPENDABLES 2, all three EQUALIZERS, COUNTDOWN, THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK, THE PROTEGE… and then every time I review one of his movies I’m reminded that before all that he wrote and directed VAMP! Give this man a lifetime achievement award or name a scholarship after him or something.

As with the whole trilogy, the director is Antoine Fuqua. It’s kinda beautiful that he directed the movie that got Denzel his Oscar, and then went back to being the guy who directed THE REPLACEMENT KILLERS, and Denzel was like, “I don’t care, I’m in!” Old man action movies aren’t a new phenomenon, but it used to be guys like Charles Bronson and Lee Marvin, who were already mostly known for tough guy roles. Now we get the stars of MALCOLM X and SCHINDLER’S LIST doing movies where they stab a guy in the face with a gun, but they don’t seem to think of it as slumming. They are artists and men of honor and passion so they take the characters seriously and give real performances. There is nothing pretentious or restrained about this part 3 of a series loosely based on an ‘80s TV show, yet it always has time to watch Denzel think and squint and rub the back of his neck and move the objects around on a table, and really go to work, and really mean it. And that’s a beautiful thing.

P.S. The poster says “WITNESS THE FINAL CHAPTER,” but since we’re following Jason rules I hope we get to witness a new beginning. Or it could be a HIGHLANDER: ENDGAME type movie/TV teamup where Denzel Equalizer passes the torch to Queen Latifah Equalizer. Or how ‘bout Emma quits the CIA but knows how to do the submission holds required to help regular folks just trying to get by? I know she’s not an old man but why shouldn’t Dakota Fanning star in a bunch of violent action thrillers? It seemed weird when Denzel first did it too, but we can get used to anything.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, September 5th, 2023 at 7:31 am and is filed under Reviews, Action. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

37 Responses to “The Equalizer 3”

  1. It being summer’s end, I took the annual trip out to the country to see Denzel stab motherfuckers at the drive-in (best line from person in accompaniment: “I haven’t seen the other two. Am I going to know what the fuck is going on?”)

    Anyway, they paired it with Gran Turismo while Meg 2 was paired with Barbie… I mean, I’m all for counter programing, but not at the expensive of what could have been and all-time drive-in trip.

    And no, you can’t just switch lots for the second feature. Doing so requires driving all the back out to the road, and re-entering (and re-paying). A guy and his (super trashy/hot) girlfriend who were in some monster pickup truck and drinking SoCo straight from the bottle attempted to just go back out to the main junction and switch lots (her best line: “Fuck Grand Terisma, I wanna watch Jason Statham punch a fucking shark!” You speak for us all, sister…), but reappeared moments later complaining of an employee posted up in a lawn chair to ensure such shenanigans do not take place (“you shoulda bribed him… or ran his ass over”)

  2. It’s a fun enough time to have in September, but I couldn’t help but think it would work better as a Discovery Channel show about Denzel eating pasta and napping on the beach than an actual action movie. They start off with the Mafia running the country and at the end, it turns out he only has to take out eight guys and it’s over. I appreciate that they go a little further with the grue than the usual CGI squibs… you might be able to splice a reel from this into Don’t Breathe 2 and get away with it… but I don’t think this is that far above your average Neeson Season offering, besides taking place in the most picturesque Italian village ever. Every time it feels like “and now Denzel has HAD ENOUGH!”, there’s a momentum-sapping cutaway to Dakota Fanning investigating a… terrorism drug? Drug that makes you a terrorist? Drug specifically marketed to terrorists? Something.

    (I did have a bit of a hard time taking this one seriously after they gave McCall the exact same backstory as the Waco Kid in Blazing Saddles: “Little bastard shot me in the ass!”)

  3. By the way, everybody please thank Clubside for figuring out what was wrong with the search engine and fixing it!

  4. I remember Nicolas Refn was in line to direct the first film in this series. Appropriately, in that first one (and the second) McCall does seem like one of those antisocial sociopathic Refn protagonists. The only difference being that Antoine Fuqua seems to think that type of guy is a hero and not a tragically fucked up murderer. I wonder if Fuqua swiped any of Refn’s plans.

    I don’t like these movies. There’s something a little snuffy about them. McCall doesn’t hesitate to waste so many dudes, and yet they never pair him up with a villain he deserves. There’s just no suspense, it’s Denzel’s Fun Visit To The Murder Palace.

    I was talking to a guy who wasn’t a huge movie guy who nonetheless one day dreamed up an idea for a mafia or gang movie pitting Liam Neeson against Daniel Craig. Wouldn’t it be so much cooler if Washington had to face up against either of those two? It sucks that Denzel has to make these movies just so he can justify going off to adapt some August Wilson or work with the Coens.

    Since it was mentioned in Vern’s typically excellent review- has anyone seen ACAB/All Cops Are Bastards? I think it’s from the Sicario 2 director.

  5. It is, which is why it’s on my radar, and I knew about it before I ever heard anybody use the term “ACAB,” and I have never been clear if it comes from the movie or not. But if anyone has seen it let me know what you thought of it.

  6. The passing of any kind of torch to a younger female in a franchise is the thing that pisses the Ken Crew most off these days. So there’s a sadist deep inside me that’s thinking that now that James Bond has a daughter, they’ll give the lead to Jodie Comer or some other capable woman. From the series THE ALIENIST I know for a fact that Dakota Fanning would work very well in an action setting.

  7. It doesn’t piss me off, but I do get a little annoyed that gender-swapping an iconic character seems to be considered some high watermark of creativity. It’s not. You’re merely recasting James Bond and removing his penis. Big fucking deal.

    Give me 3 more sequels to ATOMIC BLONDE instead. A spy and assassin conceived and written as a woman. Intrepid, resourceful, tough and horny. Tell me why I need Jane Bond again?

  8. Muchos Gracias, Clubside!

  9. What he said, Clubside. Many thanks. The world is a better place for your efforts.

  10. I’ve not seen the movie, but if the question is “Where does the term ACAB come from?”, I reckon it’s coming on for at least 100 years old, having been used by strikers against the police in the UK in the 1920s and 1930s. I feel that I remember seeing it during the 1984-1985 miners strike. Although, note that in the UK it means All Coppers Are Bastards, as you’ll doubtless get from this offering from The 4 Skins:


  11. It surprised me (and dates me) when I realize that I’ve been watching Denzel since he showed up on St. Elsewhere in 1982.

    I like to think that he’s having the kind of career that S. Seagal wanted – lauded thespian, respected human being – winner of Academy Awards etc. – and starring in shlocky, mildly offensive and slightly queasy action movies. I mean Denzel gets the President Medal of Freedom and Seagal gets a piece of tin from Putin.

    Vern – you should check out (if you haven’t yet) THE TRAGEDY OF MACBETH.

  12. Borg9 – Thank you. It might be that it didn’t catch on widely in the States until the George Floyd protests, or it might be that I just wasn’t noticing it.

    Alan – Yeah, I guess I didn’t feel I had enough to say about THE TRAGEDY OF MACBETH to write a review, but I enjoyed it. And the thing I liked most about it is that he really does a familiar Denzel performance while speaking the dialogue. McDormand is also great and I love the simple black and white look of it.

  13. Am a little curious as to why THE EQUALIZER films are being tagged as “mildly offensive ,queasy, snuffy” by some when it’s cast from the same “One Man Army Taking Out The Trash” mold that’s been entertaining the ever living shit out of me since the 80s. John Rambo, John Matrix, James Braddock, John Wick, John McClane, Bryan Mills…but McCall is the one being called out for excessive bad-assery above and beyond the call? Rambo gutted a man and ripped his heart out, McClane put an ice-pick in some mofo’s eye, Mills used electrocution to extract information, Matrix stabbed a man with a steaming pipe and Wick’s shot, stabbed, blown up and incinerated what amounts to a country’s population, but McCall putting a power drill or some other handy implement through someone’s neck is…uncomfortable? What am I missing here?

  14. Part of it is staging–the Equalizer joints really make a point of framing McCall like Jason Voorhees and showing him watch the life drain out of someone’s eyes, while John Wick will just shoot someone in the head and move on.

    The other part is that outrage culture wasn’t what it is today. I think there was a mild flurry over the Taken movies, though it was more accusations of racism than anything else. The last Rambo movie got some flak, but the zeitgeist had kinda moved on, so no one cared too much because no one saw it who wasn’t a Sly fan. Denzel Washington is still an A-list star doing mainstream films, so you’re going to get the odd PTA mom seeing him do what’s pretty standard practice for us Boyka devotees, but for them, it’s torture porn.

  15. I think most of the things you listed got more complaints at the time than THE EQUALIZER movies do now. Check reviews of the Rambo movies. There are always people out there to look down on lowbrow movies, otherwise they would be regular brow.

  16. The difference between McCall and a character like Bryan Mills or John Matrix or whomever is that Fuqua really seems to linger on the actual real damage being done to bodies, using a lot of slow motion and multiple angles. McCall doesn’t beat people up- he annihilates them. Not a lot of open caskets in these movies.

    @KayKay, the movies you mentioned feature kills that are more about showing the power (“heroism” if you’re feeling perverse) of the heroes. But “Equalizer” movies, with Denzel maintaining his low temperature approach, seem to be more about exactly how much hurt he brings to these various Central Casting henchmen. And I think a huge chunk of the fanbase, somewhat distressingly, are really into that.

  17. KayKay, I don’t think we need another Bond movie at all. But in the fight for an equal world we need to go out strong. And as we know, certain groups have to be kind of pushed in the right direction. If the guys who turn up at the 007 premieres in a tux claiming that the world went to hell when Connery stopped hitting women, can see that a good action movie can work just as well with a female, gay or transgender lead, I think they’ll eventually come around.

  18. Very much looking forward to taking in this queasy schlock when I can get around to it but haven’t yet. I’m pleased to see these films succeed, even though I may not pitch in for the theatrical experience this time around. Honestly, the idea of McCall having to fight some kind of equally matched or odds-on favorite final boss doesn’t appeal to me — this isn’t T2 or a ROCKY film. I also think the films clearly have a very strong moral compass and perspective, which is that vulnerable and marginal people need protecting from violent predators, while violent predators only respond to realpolitik. That’s quite compelling and well-pedigreed as a film-world morality, at least, and I think this version overcomes some of the casual racism and class-ism of earlier iterations of the formula (e.g., DEATH WISH).

  19. I too enjoyed it and didn’t mind the slow burn, even though I was somewhat surprised that they even made a third EQUALIZER after the way 2 ended with him coming to terms with his wife’s death, and confronting his old Agency pals feeling like a full circle conclusion, not to mention the TV show reboot starting up not long after. I didn’t really think the character was a man searching for peace, given how content he seemed with the way things were for him occasionally Equalizing people in between being a good co-worker/neighbour and living an otherwise quiet life. It wouldn’t surprise me if the movie was partly an excuse for Fuqua and Washington to have a working vacation in Italy, but that doesn’t mean I think they half-assed it. I do wish the reason he’s helping Fanning’s character was revealed up front and they were established as knowing each other, because it’d be interesting to see someone who knows him again talking to him, and it would also help the reveal to make more sense, because in the context of the previous movies, I wonder why we’re only meeting her now. Kudos to the filmatists for giving her a boss character played by a semi-recognisable actor who’s in the film just long enough to make you expect him to actually be dirty and in the bad guy’s pocket, only to no, avoid the trope, even though, again, if they did that, it would maybe make more sense of the plot in having a Mafia guy feel comfortable trying to kill a CIA agent.

    To weigh in on the Female Bond thing, an issue I have with the idea is that I’ve seen people express the belief that making Bond a woman is “an opportunity to correct” some of the character flaws he has. The womanising, the flippant attitude to violence, etc. Putting aside the fact that there’s no reason a woman couldn’t have the same qualities (in fact ATOMIC BLONDE showed that), it’s those qualities that make Bond who he is, and they’re born from a combination of the job he does where he could die at any time, and his own personal experiences. CASINO ROYALE was specifically about how Bond getting emotionally invested for the first time in forever and how it went horribly wrong and reinforced a belief in not doing things that way again. Bond isn’t always supposed to be likeable and admirable. He’s a guy who has to kill for his country sometimes, and sometimes for HIS country, not always for the larger world in general. Take that away and he’s just a perfect generic superspy character. And potentially watching a film about a female Bond having to shatter the glass ceiling at MI6 sounds like the most boring and patronising approach they could do.

  20. I view these films as a surprisingly good samurai trilogy. It’s not about McCall needing to prove himself against a worthy adversary, as the character’s real conflict is within. The violence is swift and brutal when it occurs but the real trick is getting McCall to the point where he’ll decide to act.

    *minor spoilers for E3’s ending*

    I’d also disagree a 3rd movie was unnecessary. McCall isn’t at peace in the 2nd film, he’s merely seeking redemption through helping others. Part 3 reverses the dynamic by having McCall be the one who needs saving both literally and figuratively. By the end of the film, he finally appears ready to let go of mourning his wife (the books), his past work (having insured his friend’s legacy will endure), as well as his trauma (forgetting his little OCD spoon).

  21. It’s an interesting trilogy, that to some degree follows the same template, but each have a distinct look and lean towards a different genre. The first is a thriller, the second an action movie and the third a slasher. This one is certainly the best looking and has the finest craftsmanship. And that score was epic and a little bit scary. I would not object to another, or even a JDW starring prequel or two.

  22. I only saw one of these and didn’t offend me or anything but could see a pretty big difference between this and stuff like Die Hard for sure…in Die Hard Willis is always fighting for his life, outmatched and scared out of his mind half the time but does it anyway because he’s trying to save people. Rambo has mental issues. John Wick is maybe closer but guys won’t leave him alone. In Equalizer Denzel goes out of his way to kill lots of people, and basically enjoy it and relish it. Again, doesn’t bother me but pretty big diff, especailly compared to Die Hard where McClane NEVER wants t be in those situations and tries to call for help to get him out of it, but circumstances force him to do it and if he doesn’t, lots of people will die. McClane is a genuine hero.

  23. “In Equalizer Denzel goes out of his way to kill lots of people, and basically enjoy it and relish it. ”

    Err…that’s a significant misread on who McCall is. Since you only watched the 1st one, I’ll stick to that. McCall doesn’t go out of his way to kill people, he is, like McClane, FORCED to act. A nice girl he knows hooks for the Russian Mob and when she tries to get out, is beaten to within an inch of her life and ends up in the ICU. McCall’s FIRST approach is to buy her out but the Russian Mob Boss not only tells him to go fuck himself, but tells him the money he just offered just bought the girl a month then gleefully promises the moment the girl’s out of the hospital he’s gonna put her to work and will only cut her loose once she’s all used up. McCall doesn’t walk away because he CAN’T. He has to protect the girl from these scumbags. You telling me Johns McClane, Rambo, Matrix or Wick would act differently in a similar situation?

    So, basically I’m still puzzled as to why McCall is put in an entirely different category to the rest. Shit, the guy’s happy to sit in a cafe sipping coffee and reading books, but people he knows and likes keep getting targeted by assholes who prey on the weak, just what the fuck is he supposed to do? Go back to finishing that Hemingway?

    You didn’t see the second one so I’ll tell you, McCall is once again FORCED to act when the daughter of the nice book store lady he gets his books from is kidnapped by her asshole ex-husband.

    I get it, we all like our One Man Population Reducers to basically just be regular joes trying to get on with their lives, but forced to unleash their Inner Terminators when people they care about are threatened and endangered. I’m saying that Robert McCall is no different, yeah he’s a little more OCD and yeah he does relish executing these dipshits with extreme prejudice but so what? I’d wager in the last movie, Rambo enjoyed vertically bisecting a man, reaching in and then ripping his heart out. And there are equally brutal kills in the John Wick movies. So, I still don’t buy this argument that all those other guys are heroes but McCall is Jason Voorhees with a vocabulary.

  24. Yeah, I still didn’t see PART 3: MCCALL ALLEGEDLY BECOMES JASON VORHEES, but in I and II he’s very much coded as a protector and avenger, not just some kind of cackling sadist. If anything, he’s more like best version of spy-Dexter: the noble-intentions killer who kills the evil-intentions killer and knows how they think, etc.

  25. You quoted me as saying he relishes killing people, then sai that was a misread, then later say yeah he relishes killing people so what?

    I didn’t say I had a PROBLEM with it. I don’t care, he killed scumbags in the movie. But if his goal was to save the girl, why not just bust her out of the hospital and set her up somewhere else which he’d clearly have the means to do so? Also, didn’t say they were all heroes. I said very specifically McClane is. John Wick is an assassin and deserves all the shit that comes to him. he’s no poor innocent. Rambo is basically a crazy person.

  26. The misread was in you saying he “goes out of his way” and I explained why that was not so.

    Why not bust her out of the hospital? So we’re doing this now? Re-writing character motivations and actions that reduce the movie you came to see (Lone Hero Takes Out The Garbage) to what exactly? A man who goes out of his way to avoid conflict as he ruminates on a life filled with remorse and regret as he reads Proust in a diner? Sure, you could do that, but that’s not THE EQUALIZER. Wick could have bought another dog and left town, McClane could have sat his ass in a corner and let the cops do their job, shoulda coulda woulda but that’s not why we watch these movies.

    Yeah I got your McClane point, where I disagree is that he’s a “pretty big difference” from McCall just because he didn’t linger and stare dead-eyed at the terrorists he just killed, dispassionately watching the lives ebb out of their bodies. He did plop a Santa Hat on one he iced, then sent him down with “Now I Have A Machine Gun Ho Ho Ho” message scrawled on his shirt which is some cold bloodedly calculating but still cool as shit thing to do. So, yeah not buying that McClane is the sole Real Hero in this scenario and that’s a hill I’m happy to die on. And I fucking love John McClane.

  27. No, actually the movie I came to see was a guy who murders a bunch of scumbags. I just don’t feel the need to justify him.

    McClane did that yeah, but also he was way outnumbered and they were going to find out this dude was dead anyway. So best to try to work on some psychology that will hopefully work in his favor. “Don’t come for me I’ll fuck you up too, I’m not scared.”

  28. Oh totally forgot to mention..sending the body wasn’t ONLY a message, he did it to gain intel, cause he could get on the roof of the elevator and listen in.

  29. Who the hell is justifying McCall? I’m merely disagreeing with the opinion that he’s different from the rest which is an opinion you and a couple of others here have when he’s basically doing the same shit as them.

    You want to ascribe nobler motives to McClane because he springs into action to save his wife instead of casual acquaintances who come into his life which is what McCall does. That makes both of them Righteous Dudes in my book.

  30. Jesus you dumbshit, I literally said Wick is a murderer and Rambo is a psychopath. Don’t ascribe your fantasy proclamations to me.

    And of course McClane is a cop and usually cops would try to stop terrorists who are murdering people, as he did…first by calling in backup and trying to get assistance.

  31. Sit at the kiddie table if you can’t make Big Boy Talk, you little cunt. I now see the value of certain commentators’ stand on not engaging with you any further.

  32. Fellas. Do I need to flash the lights on and off?

  33. Looks like someone actually paid attention to what I said at least. Correctly interpreted the words I wrote, and actually had a proper response to what I actually said, so I’m all good now!

  34. My apologies Vern, If I’m gonna start shit, I should have the good sense to take it outside. I’m done here.

  35. Just so I end my time on this thread on a positive note…

    Just caught this and fuck me, I loved it.

    Fuqua once again adopts the slow burn approach of Part 2 but this time it didn’t come across as a slog largely because they avoid too much plot-clutter in attempting to give you numerous avatars of McCall like McCall The Good Samaritan, McCall The Avenger, McCall The Mentor etc etc. I like jake’s reading above that these movies function as Lone Samurai or Lone Gunslinger tales, and in this installment (which may be the last) this Warrior is just looking for peace and in spending enough time to set up this little idyllic town and it’s inhabitants who welcome McCall with warmth and honesty, Fuqua gets you invested in the narrative so when a bunch of motherfuckers threaten to shatter this serenity, you totally buy why this proficient Death Dealer isn’t putting up with that shit.

    And Denzel as always is a Beast, those eyes conveying genial warmth one minute and “You have no idea how many ways I can fuck you up” cold menace the next.

    I liked both the final reveals: That this was all about doing a good deed to a random stranger who happened to be his passenger, which has always been The Equalizer’s driving force and that Emma Collins is the daughter of McCall’s closest friends. It is kinda heartwarming that these 3 movies are telling you that a couple with a stable and loving marriage, tragically cut short by tragedy produced an intelligent, well adjusted daughter imbued with their sense of duty and moral obligation. I’m glad we didn’t get the 570th iteration of the driven CIA Agent out to prove herself cause Daddy never praised her or Mommy was an alcoholic or some shit like that because apparently 80% of Hollywood Script Writers come from the same Broken Home.

    Minor quibbles: They could have upped the action quotient a bit and the climactic showdown could have used some brutal hand to hand combat. And, they give McCall a picturesque Italian town, cobblestoned pathways, a cafe and a cappucino….but no book in hand???? Not having McCall read some Umberto Eco while sipping his tea seems to be a curious lapse in the character and a missed opportunity.

    But, if this is the end of the series, then I’m happy it’s going out on a decent, if unspectacular, high note.

  36. First off, my apologies, because this *is* McCall goes late-period Michael Myers. Some nasty kills. Good ones!

    Second, my hot take is this is worst of the three. Looks handsome, Denzel is awesome as ever, when it gets physical it’s pretty good. This seemed kind of like PRADA / Dolce Italy. Fuqua Italy, I guess? The locale and its people didn’t pop and turned out to be more bland and constraining than anything else. So, I would’ve been more patient with the long gaps between the relatively few bursts of violence if those long gaps had been more engaging or suspenseful, but they were not, unfortuately. This one also slipped a few rungs in the casting and supporting performances department, I feel (though we did get a good awful photoshop pic with Melissa Leo and Bill Pullman).

    Denzel still a beast, but this also was the first movie where I felt his age showing a bit. An excellent McCall performance, but, overall this film felt offbeat and lesser. Yup, this one goes in position #3. I think we need to bring McCall back to the states, gang.

  37. Hey, this was pretty good. I loved the first one but the sequel kind of lost me, but knew I was in good hands here in the first three minutes when he stabs a guy in the eye with a pistol and then shoots another guy through the back of the first guy’s head. The setting is pleasant enough and the villains deplorable enough that the long section in the middle where nobody’s getting equalized flew by. I like that McCall was just Michael Myers at the end. At first I didn’t think the mansion invasion was a big enough climax but I think I get it. The fantasy at work here isn’t massive on-the-edge-of-your-seat action set-pieces. It’s that there’s a guy out there so badass that taking down the Camorra is nothing. He wishes he didn’t have to but since they insist he’s gonna get it over with quick so he can get back to folding napkins at the cafe. I am not too proud a man to admit that within me lurks some fairly regressive bloodlust. In this world full of villains who will never face comeuppance, who will never know the fear and misery they inflict on others, I don’t see how I could not. I’m glad there’s still filmmakers out there willing to feed that hunger for righteous, bordering-on-sadistic vengeance. I feel that it’s a vital building block of any healthy cinematic diet. Shades of gray are great and all but most of the time I want my bad guys bad and my good guys worse. They could make six more of these and I wouldn’t complain.

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