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||Columbia Pictures|
|Box office||$192.3 million|
The Equalizer is a 2014 American vigilante action thriller film directed by Antoine Fuqua, loosely based on the 1980s TV series of the same name. It stars Denzel Washington, Marton Csokas, Chloë Grace Moretz, David Harbour, Bill Pullman and Melissa Leo.
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. The film had its world premiere at 2014 Toronto International Film Festival on September 7, 2014, and was released worldwide on September 26 2014.
The film 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. A sequel was released on July 20, 2018, with Washington and Fuqua returning.
Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) is a retired Marine and Defense Intelligence Agency operative who after promising his recently deceased wife that he would leave his old life behind lives quietly in Boston, Massachusetts and works at a Home Mart hardware store. McCall befriends many of his co-workers and helps a security guard trainee named Ralph pass his qualification exam. Unable to sleep, McCall spends some late nights reading in a 24/7 diner where he befriends Alina (Chloë Grace Moretz), a teenage prostitute for the Russian Mafia; McCall regales Alina with philosophical interpretations of the book he is currently reading, The Old Man and the Sea.
One night, Alina is hospitalized following a brutal beating by her pimp, Slavi (David Meunier). Hearing of the beating, McCall visits Alina's hospital room and learns from her friend, Mandi that Slavi was responsible for it. McCall tracks down Slavi at his office and offers to buy Alina's freedom for $9,800. Slavi refuses, dismissing McCall as old and impotent. Having failed to achieve his goal through negotiation, an unarmed McCall kills Slavi and four of his men with skillful close combat efficiency by using the men's own weapons, various objects in the office, and his bare hands.
Following the killings, Russian Mafia boss Vladimir Pushkin (Vladimir Kulich) sends his enforcer, Teddy Rensen (Marton Csokas), to Boston to find and eliminate the culprit. In the meantime, Ralph withdraws his security guard application going to work for his mother at the family restaurant; McCall learns the restaurant was set on fire by corrupt policemen as an act of extortion. McCall confronts the corrupt policemen, beats them, forces them to pay back all the money they have extorted, and threatens to publicize their crimes. Ralph then returns to Home Mart and passes his test, becoming a security guard at the store.
In investigating the murders of Pushkin's henchmen, Rensen questions Alina's friend Mandy, who tells him that "a nice man--a black man" had come to visit Alina in the hospital. McCall later gets a coworker's beloved ring back after it is stolen from her by a gunman at Home Mart. McCall is seen removing a sledgehammer from the store wall, and is later seen polishing and replacing it. After finding video footage of McCall entering the building where the killings occurred, Rensen becomes suspicious of McCall, finds him, visits him at his apartment, and later makes two attempts to capture him. However, McCall escapes after killing one of Rensen's men (first disarming him with a hardcover book) and knocking out another.
McCall then visits old friend and fellow former DIA operative Susan Plummer (Melissa Leo), who uses her resources to give him information on Pushkin and Pushkin's operations. Plummer informs McCall that Teddy Rensen's true name is Nicolai Itchenko, and that he is a former member of the Russian secret police and Spetsnaz. Plummer also gives McCall "permission" to break his promise to his late wife.
Stepping up his actions against Pushkin, McCall subdues and gasses Frank Masters (David Harbour)— a corrupt policeman working for Pushkin—to force him to help destroy one of Pushkin's local money-laundering operations. An unarmed McCall accomplishes this task by disarming Andrei (the person in charge of Pushkin's money-laundering operation), holding him at gunpoint, and telling him to order his henchmen to drop their weapons. From Masters, McCall obtains a memory stick loaded with information about Pushkin's illegal activities (including bribes of Congressmen and Senators), which he sends to the FBI. McCall then confronts Itchenko at a restaurant, revealing that he knows Itchenko's history and pledging to bring down Pushkin's criminal enterprise. When McCall destroys a container ship Pushkin used to smuggle goods, Pushkin orders Itchenko to kill McCall; adding that until the deed is done, Itchenko may not return home to Moscow.
Itchenko and his men go to Home Mart and take Ralph and several of McCall's other coworkers hostage, threatening to kill them if McCall does not surrender. McCall kills Itchenko's henchmen one by one using booby traps constructed with items in the store, but is wounded in the process. After a struggle between McCall and one of Itchenko's men, Ralph comes back to pull the injured McCall out of the store, but is shot in the leg himself. After Ralph escapes, McCall confronts Itchenko and kills him with a nail gun.
Later, McCall travels to Moscow and tricks Pushkin into electrocuting himself (even cryptically warning him first). He returns to Boston and is approached by Alina, who has recovered from her injuries, found a legitimate job, and taken up reading. She thanks him 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". He soon receives another plea for help and agrees to answer it.
- Denzel Washington as Robert "Bob" McCall
- Marton Csokas as Teddy Rensen/Nicolai Itchenko
- Chloë Grace Moretz as Alina/Teri
- Melissa Leo as Susan Plummer
- Bill Pullman as Brian Plummer
- Johnny Skourtis as Ralph/"Ralphie"
- Haley Bennett as Mandy
- David Harbour as Frank Masters
- 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 Teddy's #3
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). 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. Sony originally planned on an April 11, 2014 release date, but pushed it 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 third biggest domestic opening for Washington behind the aforementioned American Gangster ($43.6 million) and Safe House ($40.2 million) and 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 60% based on 189 reviews, and an average rating of 5.7/10. 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.
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 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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