The Equalizer 3


‘…the change to a more exotic setting and the scalding photography of Robert Richardson elevate The Equaliser 3 to the best of a series that always had high professional standards…’

You’ll have to insert your own standard issue Threequelizer/Sequelizer gag here; this trilogy of low-energy movies based vaguely in the old Edward Woodward crime-fighting tv show is too self-serious for a trendy comedy title. With an obvious new direction mooted, with John David Washington playing a younger version of the special ops veteran featured here, dad Denzel Washington and director Antoine Fuqua close out the original franchise with a bloody Italian slice of levelling-up adventure that’s arguably the best of the Equalizers to date.

That’s not a huge boast; the first two films were serviceable, but bland, saved from the straight-to-streaming doldrums by gouts of bloody, nasty-ass violence and a strong lead in Washington, who projects a warm sense of humanity and melancholy that counterpoints the action in a similar way to Liam Neeson has since Taken. That helps a lot when the narrative is as rote as it is here; at 68, Washington doesn’t look like he could sneak up on a salad bar, so Robert McCall (‘two c-s, two L’s) has to get shot in the opening sequence; after laying waste of dozens of crims, McCall gets a bullet in the back because he balks at killing a child. The baddies should just send a wave of child soldiers after McCall since his sense of humanity is clearly his vulnerability, but during a recovery period spent folding napkins and drinking tea in little cafes on the picturesque Amalfi Coast, McCall decides to help put-upon locals fight back against the violent rule of the Cammora crime family. They’re on some kind of drug ‘re-packaging’ kick, but their legions of young, trained killers are no match for an American man nearing his seventies with a fresh, unhealed bullet wound in his back.

Washington is an actor with considerable gravitas, and his version of McCall in a character who enjoys the finest things in life, like getting to know an old man, watching a sunset or visiting a local dairy to find out how milk is handled and prepared for delivery. But McCall also is a professional killer in gruesome, tightly edited and brief action scenes which are designed to satisfy our bloodlust with some horror-movie levels of bloodletting. Other attractions include a Man on Fire re-union with Dakota Fanning as a helpful CIA operative, no romance, a role for David Denman (Pam Beesly’s first boyfriend from The Office) and a standard-issue action-movie compilation of clichés script from Richard Wenk (The Mechanic, Expendables 2) in which McCall inspires the locals to be their best version of themselves and kill a la Death Wish 3. A surprisingly sinister score from Marcelo Zarvos also helps create an edgy atmosphere to soundtrack McCall’s various kills.

Although the first two movies made something of the downtrodden, Boston feel of the franchise, the change to a more exotic setting and the scalding photography of Robert Richardson elevate The Equaliser 3 to the best of a series that always had high professional standards. But fortunately, it looks like Washington Sr knows when to quit while he’s ahead. In one of the various interludes where we’re invited to relish the methods of torture that McCall uses, he see him grab an assailant by the arm. ‘That’s the median nerve that I’m compressing,’ McCall says, ‘That pain you feel is a two, now a three. You don’t want me to go to four. I go to four, you’ll sh— on yourself. You don’t want that, I don’t want that… they don’t want that.’. Since we can all agree that nobody wants to go beyond three, there’s absolutely no need for us to go to four; The Equaliser can stop equalising for a bit, and bow out on a better-than-expected high for this watchable, workmanlike franchise.


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  1. I suspect you’re expecting a yep from me, and you would be right. Have seen 1&2 so feel I must finish it up. And also I’ve been to the Amalfi coast and it’ll be nice to see that again. And Denzil! Nuff said.

    • Yup, I wasn’t that fussed until I heard that we were off to Italy, but if you got through 1 and 2, you deserve a little holiday and that’s what we get here. Enjoy!

  2. Man, even Bruce Willis knew that his 50’s was pushing things for being an action star, ala RED. So I suspect I’d be rolling my eyes and making old man jokes at this movie the whole time I watched it. Probably not the frame of mind to go into watching it….

  3. Wow, I’m behind. Saw Equalizer 1 (and agree that is was an enjoyable enough afternoon but not particularly memorable) but didn’t realize there had been and Eq 2, much less a 3.

    Sounds like I should skip the middle and go right to this one.

    • Is the correct answer. The second one is the weakest in retrospect. I guess Washington gets what he wants from these films, and they are well made, but you’ve seen all this revenge malarkey many times before you’re out of your teenage years.

  4. The move to a more exotic setting actually makes this sound even more generic. I’m sure I’ll watch this at some point, but I’m going to keep my expectations low. Still want to see Washington’s Macbeth but that’s another title that seems to be avoiding DVD release.

    Who writes the local diary explaining how milk is made?

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