The Equalizer Review: The Best ‘Punisher’ Film Ever

The Equalizer
out of 5

For those Marvel Comics fans waiting for the perfect Punisher movie, it’s here. It has a different name and stars Denzel Washington, but make no mistake, The Equalizer is the best Punisher movie ever made.

The Equalizer is an update to the 1980’s CBS television series of the same name. In the TV show, Edward Woodward starred as Robert McCall, a private investigator with a certain set of skills who protected those who needed those skills with violence and cunning. In the new film, Washington stars as Bob McCall, a mild mannered stockman at a home improvement store who lives his simple life with military accuracy. When Bob can’t sleep, he takes a book down to the local diner and hangs out, drinking his tea and talking to a young street girl named Alina (Chloe Grace Moritz). When Alina, or Teri, as she’s known on the streets is beaten by one of her Johns, Bob takes notice. When Teri is once again punished by her pimp, Bob takes action.

Bob’s action against the pimp brings a man named Teddy (Marton Csokos) to the US to investigate. Teddy was sent by a Russian mob boss and Bob now finds himself embroiled in a battle for the well being of those around him, including his fellow employees at the home improvement store. Luckily for all involved, Bob is also a highly-trained ex CIA killer who went off the grid to find peace and has now found a new calling, as The Equalizer.

The film is incredibly violent and director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) nails each note perfectly. The audience I saw it with cheered when Bob doled out his punish…er…equalization (?!) to the bad guys, and Denzel Washington is damn fine in this role. He shows no emotion, and his simple words let the audience know that whoever he is talking to is about to be hurt or killed.

What hurts The Equalizer the most is in the run time. It’s long, and I’m not sue what could be cut out. Before Bob goes on his final confrontation, he goes and reconnects with his old handlers, played by Melissa Leo and Bill Pullman. This is all of the backstory we got on Bob, even though it breaks the film up and makes it feel longer. The best line in the film is also spoken here, so losing the scene would hurt it in the long run.

The only other scenes that could be cut are various montage scenes showing Bob helping people in his own unique way. That being said, the film feels much longer, but the payoff action scenes are worth the wait.

The score and music in the film both work very well, especially in the third act when Bob goes all “Frank Castle” on everybody. Good stuff indeed.

The very end of the film feels like it is leading up to a franchise, and that would be fine, but if not, Marvel Studios should really take a long hard look at Denzel Washington as the next cinematic Punisher, because he would be perfect from top to bottom, and really, in a world where Sam Jackson is Nick Fury, skin color don’t mean a thing.

The Equalizer is rated R and hits theaters on September 26th.

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