The Equalizer (film)

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The Equalizer
The Equalizer poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAntoine Fuqua
Written byRichard Wenk
Based on
The Equalizer
  • Michael Sloan
  • Richard Lindheim
Produced by
CinematographyMauro Fiore
Edited byJohn Refoua
Music byHarry Gregson-Williams
Distributed bySony Pictures Releasing[2]
Release dates
  • September 7, 2014 (2014-09-07) (TIFF)
  • September 26, 2014 (2014-09-26) (United States)
Running time
132 minutes[3]
CountryUnited States
Budget$55–73 million[4][5]
Box office$192.3 million[4]

The Equalizer is a 2014 American vigilante action film directed by Antoine Fuqua, loosely based on the 1980s TV series of the same title. Written by Richard Wenk, it stars Denzel Washington in the lead role, Marton Csokas, Chloë Grace Moretz, David Harbour, Bill Pullman and Melissa Leo. The film focuses on a former U.S. Marine turned DIA intelligence 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. 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.

The film received mixed reviews from critics and audience who praised the visual style, direction, acting, soundtrack, and action sequences but criticized its screenplay, depictions of violence and plot. Nonetheless, it became a commercial success with a worldwide gross of over $192 million on a production budget of $55–73 million. A sequel was released on July 20, 2018, with Denzel Washington, Richard Wenk, and Antoine Fuqua returning. A third film is filming, with Washington and Fuqua returning.


Robert McCall lives a quiet, routine life in Boston, working at a Home Mart hardware store. He helps his coworker Ralphie train to become a security guard, and often spends late nights reading at a diner where he befriends Alina, a teenage prostitute trafficked by the Russian mafia. When Alina is badly beaten by her pimp, Slavi, Robert visits her in the hospital and questions her friend, Mandy. He goes to Slavi's restaurant and offers to buy Alina's freedom, but Slavi refuses, leading Robert to expertly kill him and his men in a matter of seconds.

Slavi's boss, powerful kingpin Vladimir Pushkin, sends his enforcer Teddy Rensen to find and eliminate the culprit. Rensen is reluctantly assisted by Frank Masters, a police detective on Pushkin's payroll, and viciously beats a rival Irish mobster to death as a message from Pushkin. After forcing Mandy to tell him about meeting Robert, Rensen kills her, and finds security footage of Robert entering the restaurant.

Meanwhile, Robert continues to take the law into his own hands, intimidating a pair of corrupt cops into returning the money they extorted from Ralphie's mother and other business owners. After he and his coworker Jenny are robbed at gunpoint, Robert dispenses his own justice to the thief and anonymously returns Jenny's stolen ring. Rensen tracks down Robert at his apartment, unsuccessfully posing as a police officer. He later tries to abduct him, but Robert escapes and leaves a fake paper trail for Rensen and Masters, watching on hidden cameras as they search his apartment.

Robert's old friend and DIA colleague Susan Plummer informs him that Slavi's crew was the East Coast hub of Pushkin's criminal operations, and "Teddy Rensen" is Nicolai Itchenko, a Spetsnaz-trained former member of the Russian secret police. Robert tortures Masters for information with exhaust from his own car, and forces him to help shut down one of Pushkin's money-laundering warehouses, leaving him to be arrested with Pushkin's men and millions in illicit cash.

Robert obtains Masters' flash drive loaded with information about Pushkin's activities, which he emails to the FBI. He confronts Nicolai, revealing that he knows his troubled history. Pledging to bring down Pushkin's empire, Robert destroys two of his oil tankers. Nicolai sends his men to the Home Mart, taking Ralphie and other employees hostage. Robert kills the henchmen one by one with improvised weapons and traps, rescuing his coworkers, and kills Nicolai with a nail gun.

Three days later, Robert confronts Pushkin at his Moscow mansion, killing his guards and tricking him into electrocuting himself. Returning home, Robert is thanked by Alina, who has started a new life with money he anonymously left her. Inspired to continue using his skills to help people in need, Robert posts an online advertisement as The Equalizer.


In addition, Massachusetts-born and raised actors Robert Wahlberg and Timothy John Smith play the crooked Boston Police Department detectives extorting money from local shopkeepers.


In June 2010, it was announced that Russell Crowe was looking to bring The Equalizer to the big screen directed by Paul Haggis, with Crowe attached to play Robert McCall.[6][7]

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.[6][8] 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.[9] Chloë Grace Moretz was announced as a co-star on May 10, 2013; Anna Kendrick, Kelly Macdonald and Nina Dobrev were also considered.[10]

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).[11] 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.[12]

Filming began in June 2013 with locations in Salisbury, Hamilton, Chelsea, Haverhill, and Boston, Massachusetts.[13]

On June 21, 2013, Harry Gregson-Williams was hired to compose the music for the film.[14] Varèse Sarabande released a soundtrack album for The Equalizer on September 23, 2014.[15]

The song "Guts Over Fear" by rapper Eminem featuring Sia, with production by Emile Haynie, premiered in trailers for the film.[16] The song also plays over the closing credits.


Promotion and marketing[edit]

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.[17][18] The first official poster for the film was released on April 16, 2014.[19] On April 22, USA Today revealed photos from the film.[20] On May 24, the trailer for the film was released.[21] On June 12, another official trailer for the film was released.[22] On July 16, the IMAX poster for the film was released.[23]

Theatrical release[edit]

The film had a premiere at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival on September 7, 2014.[24] Sony released the film in IMAX screen theaters worldwide on September 26, 2014.[25]


Box office[edit]

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.[4]

The film was released on September 26, 2014, in the United States and earned $12.5 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.[26][27] Its opening day is the third biggest for Washington, tailing behind American Gangster ($15.8 million) and Safe House ($13.6 million).[28]

On its opening weekend the film earned $34,100,000 ($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.[29][30][31] It earned $3.3 million from 352 IMAX theaters.[32] Audiences for the debut weekend of the film were 52% male and 48% female, with 65% of ticket buyers over 30 years old.[33]

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.[34] The film broke several September openings record in various territories including the UK, Netherlands, Israel, and Egypt.[35] 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).[36][37]

Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, The Equalizer holds an approval rating of 60% based on 203 reviews, and an average rating of 7.0/10. 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."[38] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 57 out of 100, based on 41 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[39] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A−" on an A+ to F scale.[40]

Home media[edit]

The Equalizer was released on Blu-ray and DVD on December 9, 2014, by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.[41] Later, it was released on Ultra HD Blu-ray on July 10, 2018, 10 days before the sequel was released in theaters.[42]


The Equalizer 2[edit]

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.[43][44][45] 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.[46] On April 22, 2015, Sony announced that a sequel would be made.[47]

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.[48] The Equalizer 2 was released in the U.S. on July 20, 2018.

The Equalizer 3[edit]

In August 2018, Fuqua announced his plans to continue the film series. The filmmaker expressed interest in the plot taking place in an international setting.[49]

By January 2022, a third film was officially confirmed to be in development, with Denzel Washington returning in the titular role. Fuqua will once again serve as director, while principal photography scheduled to commence some time in 2022, with Washington announcing that it would be the next movie he films.[50][51][52][53][54][55] In June 2022, Dakota Fanning was cast in a supporting role. Written by Richard Wenk, the movie will be produced by Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal, Steve Tisch and Denzel Washington. The project will be a co-production between Sony Pictures, and Escape Artists Productions.[56] The film is scheduled to be released theatrically on September 1, 2023.[57]


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External links[edit]