The Equalizer plays out more like a TV show than it does a movie, probably because it's based on one. Because of this, I shall not be reviewing this as a film, but as a television show, because clearly that's what this is. The Equalizer follows the story of Robert McCall (Denzel Washington), a selfless man trying to put his mysterious past behind him. In the pilot episode he meets Teri (Chloë Grace Moretz), a young prostitute who's under threat from her Russian bosses. Robert sets out to take down her bosses and let her be free, but in doing so he starts something far greater than what he initially intended.
The Equalizer, as an entire season, fails. In comparison to a handful of other recent television shows with a similar subject matter, The Equalizer is rather week. The season opens with a strong pilot, it's intriguing and successfully sets up what's to come for the show's forthcoming episodes. This episode may be a little slow and repetitive, never really getting anywhere until the final few scenes, but it's the show's best episode. The episodes that follow are the downfall of this show. What went from a show full of potential, quickly went to a predictable, messy and clichéd series that doesn't manage to pack enough punch until its violent, explosive and thrilling season finale, with that final episode's only problem being that there just wasn't enough tension necessary for an episode of such great proportions.
With so many different stories to tell, some of the cast really needed to return for more episodes. The show does an outstanding job with its casting. Denzel Washington owns his character, creating a likeable yet incredibly violent hero out for justice. Even when we're forced to watch him do the same old thing episode after episode, he can do it in a way no other actor could come close to mastering. The supporting cast, as magnificent as a few of them are, just don't appear in enough episodes. Chloé Grace Moretz, who's provocative role is easily the second best performance in this series, isn't used to a great enough extent. Admittedly, her character wouldn't have a lot to do in the post-pilot episodes, but if we could check in on her every now and again then it would've make this direful series all the more respectable.
Throughout each of the episodes we're given brief glimpses of our primary antagonist. He begins by simply appearing for just a scene in each episode, but as the season goes on we're given more and more scenes with him in it, resulting in the final episodes to focus entirely on the threats he poses. Actor Marton Csokas does well with the character, giving him a sinister appeal, but his character has been seen in dozens of other films and shows. He is the most clichéd and unoriginal villain you could think of. He kills people just to send a message. He's covered in horrific and villain-like tattoos. And, the more stereotypical one, he's foreign. They don't come more generic than this.
The cinematography and direction work in some episodes, whereas they don't in others. This is a really odd point to make about this TV show, seeings as how the cinematographer and director stay consistent throughout the entirety of the show's air. Director Antoine Fugua, who's new to the small screen, understands how to get the best out of his top-notch cast. The visuals in the film are grotesquely shot too. Unfortunately this only happens in a few episodes, the first and last in particular. The other episodes can be tossed away, they rarely add anything to the overall plot.
To sum up, The Equalizer features some top-notch casting, grotesque camera angles and consistent direction, but they can't withstand the flimsy and messy plot or the episodes between the pilot and the season finale.