The Equalizer 3 Reviewed by GREG KING
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Stars: Denzel Washington, Dakota Fanning, David Denman, Remo Girone, Eugenio Mastrandrea, Andrea Scarduzio, Andrea Dodero, Gaia Scodellaro.
This is the third and probably final film in the revamped series based on the 1980s television series that starred Edward Woodward as Robert McCall, a former government agent who makes up for his dark past by helping people who are in trouble and unable to fight back. But Denzel Washington’s take on the character is markedly different to Woodward’s, and this series has been more violent and bloody, and the film delivers a high body count. This film also marks Washington’s fifth collaboration with director Antoine Fuqua (who cast him against type and directed him to an Oscar in Training Day), and the filmmaker seems to know how to tap into the meaner side of the actor’s screen persona.
When the film opens McCall has penetrated a winery, which is basically a Mafia stronghold, to recover something that has been taken from him, killing several heavily armed henchmen in the process. But upon leaving the premises he is shot from an unexpected. Severely wounded, he is eventually treated by the kindly doctor Enzo (Remo Girone). Recovering from his wounds he spends time in the idyllic seaside village of Altamonte on the Amalfi coast and is slowly welcomed by the villagers. He soaks up the atmosphere and begins to feel as if this is a place he can retire to and leave his old life behind for good.
But a new threat emerges as a branch of the Camorra, led by the vicious gangster Vincent Quaranta (Andrea Scarduzio) and his brother Marco (Andrea Dodero), a low-level drug dealing thug, begin to terrorise the local businessmen. Vincent hopes to transform the coastline into a series of hotels and casinos under his control. Even Gio Bonucci (Eugenio Mastrandrea) the honest local policeman is helpless to resist. McCall is unable to sit back on the sidelines and begins to take the fight to the mobsters. He also liaises with young CIA analyst Emma Collins (Dakota Fanning, who appeared with Washington in the 2004 action drama Man On Fire), and the pair eventually uncover a drug smuggling ring with links to terrorism.
The script comes from Richard Wenk, who has written the previous two instalments in the franchise, and even if you haven’t seen the previous two it doesn’t really matter as the story is pretty straightforward and a tad predictable. The story taps into that subgenre of the lone vigilante fighting back to protect innocents, which goes all the way back to films like Bad Day At Black Rock, Billy Jack and more recent examples like the Death Wish series, John Wick, Nobody, Liam Neeson’s Taken series, etc. Fuqua is very good at staging lean, mean and very violent set pieces, and The Equalizer 3 doesn’t disappoint in this area. However, some of the kills here seem unnecessarily gory and more like something out of a slasher film.
Washington brings a formidable combination of menace, world weariness, intelligence, droll humour and charm to his portrayal of the soft spoken but lethally efficient McCall, and the occasional signs of OCD add a quirky touch to the character.
The film looks visually stunning too thanks to the cinematography of Oscar winner Robert Richardson who captures the landscapes of the Italian coastline, but he also bathes the film with dark and moody lighting that complement the tone.