THE BIGGER PICTURE
Denzel Washington serves up a smooth brand of justice in the conclusive episode of The Equalizer trilogy, wrapping up his character’s journey neatly. Opinions on The Equalizer 3 vary, lauding Washington’s compelling role while pointing out issues with the film’s pacing and inconsistent mood. While some see the movie as a forgettable bloodfest, others deem it to be bloodier yet more amusing than its earlier installments. Across the board, however, Washington’s dedication to his role earns universal applause.
Denzel Washington’s late-in-life blockbuster franchise, The Equalizer, wraps up with its third chapter, in which Washington reprises his role as Robert McCall. Initially setting out for a peaceful retirement in the idyllic Southern Italy, Robert finds that dream shattered. Why? Because, of course, the Mafia also considers it an idyllic place—ideal for their not-so-idyllic activities, which the justice-seeking McCall simply can’t abide.
The first two movies planted their action primarily in Massachusetts, focusing mostly on Boston. Washington’s McCall, a veteran of both the U.S. Military and Intelligence sectors, tries to live a discreet existence. In the original Equalizer, he’s an employee at a hardware store who devotes his nights to hanging out at a local diner and forging friendships. There, he meets Alina, portrayed by Chloe Grace Moretz, a young woman ensnared by the Russian mafia’s human trafficking operations. After she becomes a victim of her own circumstances, Robert decides to personally evict the mafia from the city and liberate Alina.
The curtain falls on Robert McCall, now motivated to extend a helping hand to the downtrodden. He begins advertising his services online as The Equalizer, aided by his ex-colleague Susan (played by Melissa Leo). In the follow-up film, Robert is back in action, but this time driving for Lyft and scouting for folks in need. His return to vigilantism is sparked when Susan is murdered while probing a European case with a former teammate, Dave York (played by Pedro Pascal before he became the darling of the internet). York, it turns out, has been moonlighting as a gun for hire since Robert stepped back from action. The film peaks in a coastal town amidst a raging storm, where Robert disposes of the villainous gang without breaking much of a sweat.
Initial feedback on the final chapter has been a mixed bag. Empire’s Amon Warmann states the film serves as a “stable closure to an unexpected trilogy and a suitable farewell to Robert McCall’s narrative journey—while Washington remains a captivating arbiter of sleek justice.” On the other hand, Variety’s Murtada Elfadl finds it “challenging not to cheer for any character Washington portrays,” calling McCall a “compassionate yet savage ally.”
IndieWire’s Kate Erbland thinks the film hits a “resounding note, offering everyone an extravagant escapade to cherish.”
Conversely, Charles Bramesco from The Guardian calls the movie “ephemeral and bloody,” yet appreciates Washington’s on-screen rapport with Dakota Fanning. Also, Andrew J. Salazar from DiscussingFilm dubs the film “tedious,” but gives a nod to Washington’s unwavering commitment to McCall’s persona.
On a lighter note, Fran Hoepfner from The Wrap contends the film is “bloodier and more comical” than its antecedents, while Frank Scheck from The Hollywood Reporter categorizes it as “exhaustingly violent.”
The movie is slated for its big-screen debut on September 1, 2023.