The Equalizer 3: Denzel Washington shines in a captivating finale to the series
  • Release Date: 01/09/2023
  • Cast: Denzel Washington, Dakota Fanning, Gaia Scodellaro, Remo Girone
  • Director: Antoine Fuqua

“The Equalizer 2” disappointed me, even though it had everything that made its original such an enjoyable and strangely impactful film. Hence, I approached the third and final installment of this franchise with caution and controlled expectations. Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) is back in action in Sicily, where we witness him taking down an elaborate criminal enterprise in his trademark fashion. However, he is brutally injured during the fight, which lands him in Naples for a prolonged stay he had not planned for. McCall immerses himself in the vibrant and welcoming life of the town as he heals and starts forging bonds with the locals. It is only a matter of time before he witnesses the people he cares about suffering under the subjugation of a gang of criminals who are not only disturbing the peace of the town but are also instrumental in the destruction of society and the safety of the world as we know it. McCall takes it upon himself to set things right.

The Equalizer 3” is an innovatively and meticulously directed film. Antoine Fuqua grabbed my attention with his astute style and immersive execution of a chain of events that appear extremely simple on the surface. The way he portrays the trail of destruction left behind by McCall in the first scene of the film as the adversary cautiously approaches him, and the final reveal of the protagonist, has to be one of the most intriguing and heroic introductions of a 70-year-old character in a film. Fuqua is well aware of the limitations of the actor and cleverly uses these limitations to his advantage. He skillfully designs the action sequences and captures them in a manner that allows us to believe everything that McCall does in the film. This doesn’t mean that the action is any less heroic or brutal, but it is executed while keeping believability, realism, and the character’s capabilities in mind. Fuqua tailors the sequences to Denzel’s movements. This also holds true for the scenes where he is shown doing nothing but moving around the city and interacting with other characters.

After the initial burst of action, the film transitions into a leisurely walk through the picturesque locales of Italy for at least an hour. During this period, we only get to see McCall forging bonds with the locals, engaging in intricate discussions about life with his doctor, and most importantly, witnessing the subtle depiction of the plight and tragedies of the locals who are shown reeling under the weight of the torture of the criminal family that controls the city. When the film isn’t focused on McCall, we are presented with generic scenes that document the villainy of the bad guys. This was the only portion of the film that felt clichéd and repetitive. On the contrary, every scene featuring Denzel, even while doing the most mundane and unremarkable things, felt strangely captivating and engaging. This is due to the interesting dialogue and, even more so, the way the sequences are meticulously crafted and portrayed.

One has to give due credit to the enchanting locales in which these scenes unfold and how wonderfully they are captured by cinematographer Robert Richardson. The cinematic quality of the composition and color grading perfectly suits the mood and setting, making the visuals themselves feel like a refreshing and soothing therapy for tired and aggravated eyes that have consumed their share of digital mediocrity throughout the day on handheld devices.

Denzel Washington is the heart and soul of the film, and there are no other ways to say that. He is present in every scene of the film, and he makes each and every one of these scenes worth watching by bringing his trademark charm and brooding seriousness to it. This has to be the “The Equalizer” film where we see him smile more than in any of the others, and each of those smiles is well-earned. His camaraderie with most of the other cast members, whose names no one will care to remember, is so infectious that you feel for these side characters in the film when something bad happens to them. This is made possible because of the importance these characters assume when they are shown forging bonds with Denzel, and their interactions turn out to be so absorbing and engaging.

Washington looks perfectly at home and comfortable in the action sequences too. He brings such physicality to the action with the numerous close-ups that the camera takes on his face when he is doing extremely brutal things that it transfixes the audience on his expression more than the fact that we have not been able to see him perform the action in wide angles. While the director does his part by smartly designing the action sequences that have quality, physicality, and impact but are also done in a way that allows for the usage of body doubles and is mostly not performed by a 70-year-old Washington, it cannot be ignored that Washington, with his intelligent moves and expressions, contributes heavily to the success of these sequences.

Dakota Fanning reunites with Denzel Washington after the two brewed up a storm in “Man On Fire” with their respective performances and the profound impact their performances had on the film. The sequences where we see the two interact are exceptionally warm and charming. By the time the film ends, Fanning’s character is well-developed and given a valid reason to exist. Washington, in the film, saves her for the second time, and the two still have that infectious charm about their being together in the same frame. I don’t know why, but I felt extremely nostalgic about seeing the two together.

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“The Equalizer 3” is a befitting finale for a series that started off strong, took a dip in its second installment, and then rose from the ashes like a phoenix to spread its wings one last time before settling into a heartwarming and peaceful existence. This is the only franchise that Washington has ever been a part of, and he made sure that his swan song in franchises was not disappointing. I thoroughly enjoyed this film for its simplistic story, scintillating presentation, terrific performance from Denzel Washington, and immaculate direction from Antoine Fuqua. The cinematography of Robert Richardson was something that came as an added bonus and was just as valuable an addition to the film as its many quirky exchanges between characters. Don’t walk into this film expecting something like “John Wick.” There are fewer and more restrained action sequences in this one than in the rest of the series, but trust me, it’s a good thing.

Rating: 3/5 (3 out of 5 Stars)

The views expressed in this article are that of the reviewer and do not reflect EastMojo’s position.

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