Denzel Washington returns to close out Robert McCall’s violent vigilante journey in a solid end to the trilogy
There sure are a lot of action franchises that revolve around some unstoppable ex-assassin brought back into the life they thought they had left behind, and filmmaker Antoine Fuqua’s Equalizer trilogy is certainly no exception to that. Loosely based on the television series from the 80s, the Equalizer movies focus on Robert McCall, a former Marine and retired DIA officer who is shaken out of his quiet, private life and begins dishing out his own violent brand of vigilante justice.
He’s pretty much The Punisher with a John Wick-like grace to his executions, but what really helps McCall stick out from his other R-rated action cohorts is the simple fact that he’s played by the incomparable Denzel Washington. Washington isn’t just proficient at the onscreen gun and fight choreography – he also imbues McCall with an air of mystery, melancholy and weighty regret that makes him far more introspective than the rest of the pack.
The Equalizer 3 acts as the supposed finale (despite talks already happening of prequels and the like) and is a mostly satisfying experience for those that have enjoyed these films. McCall’s latest mission has sent him to Italy – where he’s found much more than he bargained for. After suffering a shocking and debilitating injury, he winds up stranded in a small seaside town called Altamonte and in the care of the local doctor, Enzo Arisio (Remo Girone).
It’s fascinating to see this incredibly guarded and stoic character suddenly put in such a vulnerable position. This time around, he’s forced to rely on patience and the kindness of others as he slowly recovers. It probably helps that he’s found himself in about as picturesque of a place as possible with the friendliest Italian folks you could imagine. That is, if you don’t count the local Camorra members who have been terrorizing the area.
There’s a bit more to the overall plot that involves a CIA officer (Dakota Fanning) and an international drug trade, but for the most part we stay focused on McCall’s long road to physical and mental recovery as he begins feeling at home in Altamonte. As he falls deeper in love with the seaside village and its people, the more defensive he feels towards them. As you can probably expect, once he’s back on his feet, he’ll be dealing with the Camorra in his usual brutal fashion.
Or will he? While these movies have always excelled at looking inwards rather than just piling up bodies, The Equalizer 3 takes us to new corners of McCall’s conflicted psyche. He’s a man that’s been torn between his good intentions and merciless methods his entire life, and it’s certainly not meant to be subtle that his slow Italian seaside rehabilitation involves him climbing a looming set of stairs up to the town church.
You get the best of both worlds with Washington’s supposed final performance as this character, and for those that have enjoyed McCall’s violently cathartic journey, The Equalizer 3 is here to please. Don’t sleep on this series any longer.
‘The Equalizer 3’ is now playing in theaters.