In the south of Italy, former government special agent Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) is busy doing what he does best. As a man with a particular set of skills, he fixes the evils of the world and punishes those who cause it. His latest mission ends with the usual brutality and he begins to make his way back to whatever temporary place he calls home for the week.
That is, until Robert McCall is gravely wounded having uncharacteristically let his guard down. Not being a man to visit a hospital, Robert eventually collapses near the small coastal village of Altamonte. There, he is rescued by local policeman Gio (Eugenio Mastrandrea) and is brought back from the verge of death by elderly doctor Enzo (Remo Girone). As Robert regains his strength, he falls in love with the simple and peaceful place. At the same time, its people fall in love with him and Robert finally feels like he has a place to call home for good.
But if Robert wanted to stay away from organised crime, this was the wrong place. The Camorra crime syndicate which preys upon the locals, makes itself known. It is run by brothers Vincent (Andrea Scarduzio) and Marco (Andrea Dodero), each as ruthless as the other. Robert discovers that old habits die hard and he sets out to protect his newfound peace from these men who would threaten to take it away.
Based on the 80s TV series, The Equalizer 3 closes out this film trilogy which began in 2014. With the combined creative power of Denzel Washington, director Antoine Fuqua and writer Richard Wenk uniting for all three films, The Equalizer 3 provides an international spin on the franchise, treading on new ground while sticking to what fans have come to expect.
I was particularly ecstatic to discover that Fuqua would be returning to the helm. Starting out with music videos, he quickly became one of my favourite action movie directors with ‘The Replacement Killers’. Since then, he has branched out but continues to entertain with films like ‘Shooter’, ‘Olympus Has Fallen’, and of course ‘The Equalizer’ film franchise. All of which have featured hardcore action depicted in a brutal and visceral way that is unique to him. The way Fuqua portrays violence, we never become desensitised to it as we would in other films after the umpteenth villain has received their ventilation via bullets.
Returning as Robert McCall is the one and only Denzel Washington who exudes the quiet confidence which makes the character so great. These films I see as the antithesis to ‘John Wick’ in how they portray their hero. While Keanu Reeves is a man of few words and lengthy action sequences, Denzel tells you calmly he will tear your throat out and with his icy stare and we believe him. There is action but ‘Training Day’ director Fuqua understands the acting ability of his star and lets him shine accordingly.
Another reunion is with Washington‘s ‘Man on Fire’ co-star Dakota Fanning, now all grown up in the role of CIA operative Emma Collins. The two immediately share an odd familiarity with each other which is fitting to the story, although we do not learn exactly why until later in the film. Unfortunately, Fanning is given little to do for the body of the movie, acting in a smaller supporting role.
This is a by-product of the film’s largest issue being a weaker story that fails to live up to its predecessors. There are hints of something greater percolating in the background involving The Camorra, drug smuggling and international terrorism. None of which really feels like it ever gets off the ground in a satisfying way.
Disappointing too is the films lack of commitment to the idea that McCall wants to retire. Washington can’t make these films forever, so his character spending much of the film injured. This could have inspired his new neighbours to stand up for themselves. Instead, it isn’t long until McCall is back to full strength and playing the one-man wrecking crew, as always. Worse still, is The Equalizer 3’s anticlimactic finale which pales in comparison to its predecessors in the franchise.
While the mediocre script fails to build a truly compelling narrative, making this an entertaining if rather lacklustre finale to a trilogy which deserves better. The Equalizer 3 is still a film that Equalizer fans will greatly enjoy. Featuring Denzel Washington in fine form as Robert McCall who effortlessly dispatches baddies with near slasher movie levels of ultraviolence.