The Equalizer (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Antoine Fuqua|
|Written by||Richard Wenk|
|Music by||Harry Gregson-Williams|
|Edited by||John Refoua|
|Distributed by||Sony Pictures Releasing|
|Box office||$192.3 million|
The Equalizer is a 2014 American vigilante crime action drama thriller film directed by Antoine Fuqua, loosely based on the 1980s TV series of the same name. Written by Richard Wenk, it stars Denzel Washington, Marton Csokas, Chloë Grace Moretz, David Harbour, Bill Pullman and Melissa Leo. The film focuses on a former U.S. Marine turned DIA officer who reluctantly returns to action to protect a teenage prostitute from members of the Russian mafia.
Principal photography began in June 2013 in Massachusetts. It was the first film to have Village Roadshow Pictures co-finance the deal with Sony Pictures since Saving Silverman in 2001, which began with Fortress (1992).
The Equalizer had its world premiere at 2014 Toronto International Film Festival on September 7, 2014, and was released worldwide on September 26, 2014 in conventional and IMAX theaters. It received mixed reviews from critics, who praised the visual style, acting, soundtrack and action sequences but criticized its violence and plot. Nonetheless, it became a commercial success with a worldwide gross of over $192 million on a production budget of $73 million.
A sequel was released on July 20, 2018, with Washington, Wenk and Fuqua returning.
Robert "Bob" McCall (Denzel Washington) is a retired Marine and former DIA officer who faked his death, after promising his now-deceased wife, Vivian that he would leave his old life behind. For the last few decades, McCall has lived a quiet life in Boston working as a manager at a Home Mart hardware store, where he befriends many of his co-workers and helps a friend named Ralphie (Johnny Skourtis) pass his qualification exam to become a security guard. Unable to sleep, McCall spends some late nights reading in a 24/7 diner where he befriends Alina (Chloe Grace Moretz), a teenage prostitute working for the Russian mafia.
One night, Alina is hospitalized after being brutally beaten by her pimp, Slavi (David Meunier). Hearing of the beating, McCall visits Alina's hospital room and speaks with her friend, Mandy (Haley Bennett). McCall visits Slavi and offers to pay $9,800 for Alina's freedom. Slavi refuses, dismissing McCall as old and impotent. McCall then kills Slavi and four of his men with skillful close combat efficiency, using the men's own weapons, various objects in the office, and his bare hands.
Vladimir Pushkin (Vladimir Kulich), Slavi's boss and a powerful Russian mafia kingpin, sends his enforcer, Teddy Rensen (Marton Csokas), to find and eliminate the culprit. In the meantime, Ralphie withdraws his security guard application, and instead takes a second job with his mother at their family restaurant. When McCall learns that the restaurant was set on fire by corrupt policemen, Detectives Harris (Robert Wahlberg) and Gilly (Timothy John Smith) as an act of extortion, he confronts and beats the officers, forcing them to pay back all the money they have extorted by threatening to publicize their crimes from a video recording McCall made on his phone. Ralphie then returns to the store and passes his test, becoming a security guard at the store.
Rensen visits Mandy, questioning her about who could have killed Slavi. When Mandy tells him that "a nice man, a black man" had come to visit Alina in the hospital, he kills her to cover his tracks by strangling her to death. A robber holds up at the store and steals a ring belonging to a cashier, Jenny (Anastasia Mousis), who had inherited from her mother at her counter. After the ring is mysteriously returned on her counter, McCall is seen cleaning a bloodied sledgehammer with a cloth and putting it back on display in the store, indicating that he tracked down and killed the robber with it, and recovered the ring from him.
After finding video footage of McCall entering the club where Slavi was killed, Rensen visits McCall at his apartment, posing as a police officer, and later makes two attempts to capture him. However, McCall escapes after killing a hitman who tries to ambush him at the diner and knocking out one of Rensen's associates. McCall then visits an old friend and DIA supervisor Susan Plummer (Melissa Leo), who uses her resources to give him information on Pushkin and his operations. Plummer also informs McCall that Teddy Rensen's true name is Nikolai Itchenko, a former member of the Russian secret police with Spetsnaz training.
Stepping up his actions against Pushkin, McCall subdues Frank Masters (David Harbour), who is a crooked detective on Pushkin's payroll and has been helping Rensen, while forcing him to help gain access to one of Pushkin's local money-laundering operations. Once there, McCall holds the gangster running the operation at gunpoint, subdues his cronies, and orders Masters to inform the police of the money-laundering operation. From Masters, McCall obtains a memory stick loaded with information about Pushkin's illegal activities, which he emails to the FBI. McCall then confronts Itchenko at a restaurant, revealing that he knows his history and pledging to bring down Pushkin's criminal enterprise. When McCall destroys a container ship Pushkin used to smuggle goods, Pushkin has had enough and orders Itchenko to kill McCall.
Itchenko and his henchmen go to the store and take Ralphie, Jenny and several others of McCall's co-workers hostage, threatening to kill them if McCall does not surrender. After arriving at the store, McCall kills Itchenko's henchmen one by one using booby traps constructed with items in the store, while rescuing Ralphie However, McCall is wounded in the process during a struggle between himself and the second last of Itchenko's henchmen. Ralphie comes back to pull the injured McCall out of the store, but is shot in the leg himself by Itchenko's last henchman. After getting Ralphie to escape and killing the last henchman, McCall confronts Itchenko and kills him with a nail gun.
Three days later, McCall travels to Moscow, kills all of Pushkin's guards at his mansion, and tricks him into electrocuting himself. After his return to the United States, McCall is approached by Alina outside a neighborhood grocery store, learning that she has started a new life after being freed from Slavi's control and having found a job. She thanks McCall for giving her a second chance. McCall is inspired to continue using his skills to help people in need and posts an online advertisement, now identifying himself as "The Equalizer".
- Denzel Washington as Robert "Bob" McCall
- Marton Csokas as Nikolai Itchenko (Teddy Rensen)
- Chloë Grace Moretz as Alina (Teri)
- David Harbour as Frank Masters
- Johnny Skourtis as Ralphie
- Melissa Leo as Susan Plummer
- Bill Pullman as Brian Plummer
- Haley Bennett as Mandy
- Vladimir Kulich as Vladimir Pushkin
- David Meunier as Slavi
- Alex Veadov as Tevi
- James Wilcox as Pederson
- Mike O'Dea as Remar
- Anastasia Mousis as Jenny
- Robert Wahlberg as Detective Harris
- Timothy John Smith as Detective Gilly
- Dan Bilzerian as one of Nikolai's henchmen
- Sala Baker as one of Nikolai's henchmen
In December 2011, it was reported that Denzel Washington would star in the title role of the film version, to be financed by Sony Pictures Entertainment and Escape Artists. Director Antoine Fuqua came on board to direct on March 21, 2013, reuniting him with Washington after their successful collaboration on the 2001 Oscar-winning film Training Day. Chloë Grace Moretz was announced as a co-star on May 10, 2013; Anna Kendrick, Kelly Macdonald and Nina Dobrev were also considered. On May 31, 2013, Melissa Leo was cast in the film. Leo previously worked with Washington in the 2012 film Flight, and with Fuqua in Olympus Has Fallen (2013). Coincidentally, Leo actually guest starred in a season one episode of the original Equalizer television series titled "The Defector", in which she portrayed the daughter of a former Soviet agent, who enlists McCall's help to defect to the United States. Marton Csokas was cast to play the villain on May 17.
Promotion and marketing
The first official image from the film was released on December 6, 2013. On August 6, 2012, Sony had originally planned on an April 11, 2014 release date, but on July 5, 2013, the released date pushed back to September 26, 2014. The first official poster for the film was released on April 16, 2014. On April 22, USA Today revealed photos from the film. On May 24, the trailer for the film was released. On June 12, another official trailer for the film was released. On July 16, the IMAX poster for the film was released.
The Equalizer grossed $101.5 million in North America and $90.8 million in other territories for a worldwide gross of $192.3 million, against a net production budget of $55 million.
The film was released on September 26, 2014, in the United States and earned $12.6 million from 3,236 theaters in its first opening night including the $1.45 million it earned from 2,693 screens from Thursday night showings. On the second day the film earned $13.5 million and $8.1 million on the third day. Its opening day is the third biggest for Washington, tailing behind American Gangster ($15.8 million) and Safe House ($13.6 million). On its opening weekend the film earned $35,000,000 ($10,816 per theater) and debuted at number one at the box office. The film broke several records at the box office during its opening weekend including the biggest R-rated debut of September, surpassing Jackass Number Two record ($29 million), the biggest IMAX opener of September, the biggest debut weekend gross for Antoine surpassing Olympus Has Fallen ($30 million), the fifth biggest domestic opening for Washington behind the aforementioned American Gangster ($43.6 million), Safe House ($40.2 million), and eventually behind its sequel The Equalizer 2 ($35.8 million) and The Magnificent Seven ($35.7 million). It was also the fourth biggest for a film released in September. It earned $3.3 million from 352 IMAX theaters. Audiences for the debut weekend of the film were 52% male and 48% female, with 65% of ticket buyers over 30 years old.
The Equalizer earned $17.8 million overseas from 65 territories from 4,500 screens during its opening weekend with $1.4 million of the gross coming from 137 IMAX theaters. The film broke several September openings record in various territories including the UK, Netherlands, Israel, and Egypt. Top openings include the UK ($2.9 million), Russia ($2.7 million), Mexico ($1.4 million), Brazil ($1.3 million) United Arab Emirates ($875,000) and Malaysia ($650,000). Showings from Village Roadshow markets grossed an estimate $2.4 million with top openings including Australia ($1.9 million), New Zealand ($180,000) and Singapore ($300,000).
On Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, the film holds an approval rating of 59% based on 197 reviews, and an average rating of 5.69/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "The Equalizer is more stylishly violent than meaningful, but with Antoine Fuqua behind the cameras and Denzel Washington dispensing justice, it delivers." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 57 out of 100, based on 41 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A–" on an A+ to F scale.[better source needed]
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On February 24, 2014, seven months before the release of the film, it was announced that Sony Pictures and Escape Artists were planning a sequel, with Richard Wenk penning the script. In early October 2014, Fuqua said in an interview that there would be a sequel to the film only if audiences and Denzel Washington wanted it. He stated McCall was an interesting character and that the sequel could have more of an international flavor. On April 22, 2015, Sony announced that a sequel would be made.
In July 2017, Columbia Pictures announced that a portion of the filming would take place in the Brant Rock area of Marshfield, which took place over two weeks in November 2017. The Equalizer 2 was released in the U.S. on July 20, 2018.
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