The Equalizer (film)

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The Equalizer
The Equalizer poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Antoine Fuqua
Produced by Todd Black
Jason Blumenthal
Denzel Washington
Alex Siskin
Steve Tisch
Mace Neufeld
Tony Eldridge
Michael Sloan
Screenplay by Richard Wenk
Based on The Equalizer 
by Michael Sloan
Richard Lindheim
Starring Denzel Washington
Marton Csokas
Chloë Grace Moretz
David Harbour
Bill Pullman
Melissa Leo
Music by Harry Gregson-Williams
Cinematography Mauro Fiore
Edited by John Refoua
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
  • September 7, 2014 (2014-09-07) (TIFF)
  • September 26, 2014 (2014-09-26) (United States)
Running time
132 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $55 million[2]
Box office $192.3 million[2]

The Equalizer is a 2014 American neo-noir vigilante action thriller film directed by Antoine Fuqua and written by Richard Wenk, nominally based on the television 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 on location and took place in different cities of Massachusetts. This was the first film to have Village Roadshow Pictures co-finance the deal with Sony Pictures Entertainment 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.

The film received mixed to positive reviews from critics and earned a worldwide box office gross of over $192 million. A sequel has been confirmed, with Washington reprising his role.


Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) is a retired black ops operative who quietly lives in Boston, Massachusetts, works at a Home Mart hardware store, where he befriends many of his co-workers, and helps a security guard trainee named Ralph pass his qualification exam. McCall promised his recently deceased wife that he would leave his old life behind. Unable to sleep, McCall spends some late nights reading in a 24/7 diner, where he befriends Alina (Chloë Grace Moretz), a teenaged prostitute for the Russian Mafia, who is regaled by McCall with his philosophical interpretations of the book he reads, The Old Man and the Sea. One night she is hospitalized following a brutal beating by her pimp, Slavi (David Meunier). McCall enters a restaurant owned by the Russian mob and offers to buy Alina's freedom from Slavi for $9,800, but Slavi refuses, dismissing McCall as old and impotent. Failing in this approach, McCall considers the room, estimating it would take him 16 seconds to clear it. He subsequently kills Slavi and four of his men with skillful close combat efficiency. To slight dismay, McCall realizes that it took him 19 seconds to accomplish his task and quietly lectures the dying Slavi that his death could have been avoided had he taken the money.

Russian Mafia boss Vladimir Pushkin (Vladimir Kulich) sends his enforcer Teddy Rensen (Marton Csokas) to Boston to find and eliminate the culprit. Meanwhile, Ralph withdraws his application for being a security guard at Home Mart to help out his mother at his family restaurant, which was set on fire by corrupt policemen as an act of extortion. McCall confronts the corrupt policemen and beats them. He forces them to pay back all the money they have extorted, threatening to publicize their crimes with video that he shot of them accepting protection money from Ralph's mother. Ralph returns to Home Mart, and passes his test, becoming a security guard at the store.

Rensen determines McCall is the culprit, surprised by the skill sets McCall possesses. McCall repeatedly outsmarts his pursuers and completes more acts of vigilantism. McCall visits old friends; married and retired CIA operatives Susan (Melissa Leo) and Brian Plummer (Bill Pullman) in Virginia, who help him acquire intelligence on Pushkin's activities. It is revealed that Rensen's real name is Nicolai Itchenko, that he is an ex-Spetsnaz and ran a wing of the secret police; Susan describes him as "a sociopath with a business card". Brian reveals to McCall that he had a "nice funeral" and they are relieved, though not surprised, that he survived. After McCall leaves, Susan remarks to Brian that McCall was not actually looking for help, but was asking for permission.

McCall captures Frank Masters (David Harbour), a corrupt policeman on Pushkin's payroll, by trapping him in his car[3] and flooding the vehicle with tailpipe exhaust to force him to cooperate. Masters relents and helps McCall destroy one of Pushkin's local money laundering operations. McCall confronts Itchenko at dinner, pledging to bring Pushkin's empire down. When McCall destroys a container ship Pushkin used to smuggle goods, Pushkin orders Itchenko to kill McCall, saying that until he does, he may not return home to Moscow.

Itchenko and his men go to the Home Mart and take Ralph and several other of McCall's coworkers hostage, threatening to kill them if McCall does not surrender. McCall enters the store and disables most of the lighting, and tells Ralph to get the hostages to safety. McCall then kills Itchenko's henchmen one by one using booby traps constructed with items in the store. 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. McCall tells Ralph to turn on the electricity at the breaker box in exactly 40 seconds, giving him his digital watch for precision. McCall sets up small containers of propane and oxygen in a microwave oven. The electricity turns it on, causing an explosion that kills the last of Itchenko's men. Afterwards, McCall confronts Itchenko and kills him with a nail gun.

Later, McCall then travels to Moscow, and confronts Pushkin while he is in the shower and sets a trap which electrocutes and kills him. McCall returns to Boston, where he reunites with Alina, who has recovered from her wounds, has gotten a legitimate job and has 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, a former CIA operative with exceptional close quarters hand-to-hand fighting skills who becomes a vigilante after Alina, a child prostitute who frequents the all-night diner that McCall does, is brutally beaten by her pimp, Slavi.
  • Marton Csokas as Nicolai Itchenko, a hitman for the Russian mobster boss Vladimir Pushkin. Following McCall's killing of Slavi, Nicolai, who uses the alias Teddy Rensen, arrives in the U.S. to investigate the matter for Pushkin.
  • Chloë Grace Moretz as Alina/"Teri", a child prostitute in the employ of the Russian Mafia.
  • Melissa Leo as Susan Plummer, McCall's friend and a former CIA colleague.
  • Bill Pullman as Brian Plummer, Susan's husband, also was in the CIA.
  • Johnny Skourtis as Ralph "Ralphie", McCall's friend and co-worker whom McCall mentors in Ralph's efforts to lose weight and pass an exam to becoming a security officer.
  • Haley Bennett as Mandy
  • David Harbour as Frank Masters, a corrupt Boston police detective under Pushkin's payroll.
  • Vladimir Kulich as Vladimir Pushkin, a powerful Russian crime lord with extensive business interests on the East and West Coasts of the United States, which include gasoline, prostitution, and money laundering. He sends his men to kill McCall.
  • David Meunier as Slavi
  • Alex Veadov as Tevi
  • James Wilcox as Pederson
  • Mike O'Dea as Remar
  • Anastasia Mousis as Jenny
  • Robert Wahlberg as Det. Harris
  • Dan Bilzerian as Teddy's #3



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.[4][5]

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.[4][6] 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.[7] Chloë Grace Moretz was announced as a co-star on May 10, 2013.[8] 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).[9] Marton Csokas was cast to play the villain on May 17th.[10]


Filming began in June 2013 with locations in Salisbury, Hamilton, Chelsea, Haverhill, and Boston, Massachusetts.[11]


On June 21, 2013, Harry Gregson-Williams was hired to compose the music for the film.[12] Varèse Sarabande released a soundtrack album for The Equalizer on September 23, 2014.[13]

On August 25, 2014, previews of the song "Guts Over Fear", by rapper Eminem and featuring Sia, with production by Emile Haynie, premiered in trailers for the film.[14] 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. Sony originally planned on an April 11, 2014 release date, but pushed it back to September 26, 2014.[15][16] The first official poster for the film was released on April 16, 2014.[17] On April 22, USA Today revealed photos from the film.[18] On May 24, the trailer for the film was released.[19] On June 12, another official trailer for the film was released.[20] On July 16, the IMAX poster for the film was released.[21]

Theatrical release[edit]

The film had a premiere at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival on September 7, 2014.[22] Sony released the film in IMAX screen theaters worldwide on September 26, 2014.[23]


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 budget of $55 million.[2]

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.[24][25] Its opening day is the third biggest for Washington, tailing behind American Gangster ($15.8 million) and Safe House ($13.6 million).[26] 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.[27][28][29] It earned $3.3 million from 352 IMAX theaters.[30] The film played 52% male and 65% over 30 years old.[31]

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.[32] The film broke several September openings record in various territories including the UK, Netherlands, Israel, and Egypt.[33] 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).[34][35]

Critical response[edit]

The Equalizer received mixed to positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, the film holds a rating of 60%, based on 179 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."[36] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 57 out of 100, based on 41 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[37]


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.[38][39][40] 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 said it was an interesting character and the sequel could have more of an international flavor.[41]

On April 22, 2015, a sequel was confirmed, with Washington returning to his role.[42] On June 11, 2015, Sony set September 29, 2017 as the release date for The Equalizer 2, although Fuqua has not confirmed if he will return.[43]


  1. ^ "THE EQUALIZER (15)". British Board of Film Classification. September 3, 2014. Retrieved September 3, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c "The Equalizer (2014) - Box Office Mojo". September 26, 2014. Retrieved January 13, 2014. 
  3. ^ A black Jaguar XJ6 sedan - perhaps as a nod to the original TV series as that is the type and color of car The Equalizer drove in the first 2 seasons.
  4. ^ a b Schaefer, Sandy (October 25, 2012). "Denzel Washington’s ‘Equalizer’ Secures Start Date; Lining Up Directors". Screen Rant.
  5. ^ "Russell Crowe Looking To Bring Back The Equalizer". The Film Stage. June 15, 2010. Retrieved June 15, 2010. 
  6. ^ "Sony sets 'Equalizer' redo with Denzel Washington". Variety. December 13, 2011. Retrieved December 13, 2011. 
  7. ^ Fleming, Mike. "Antoine Fuqua Eyes 'Training Day' Re-Team With Denzel Washington In 'The Equalizer'". Retrieved March 21, 2013. 
  8. ^ Fleming, Mike. "Chloe Moretz Getting Lead in 'Equalizer' Movie With Denzel Washington". Retrieved June 1, 2013. 
  9. ^ Fleming, Mike. "Melissa Leo Joining Denzel Washington In 'The Equalizer'". Retrieved June 1, 2013. 
  10. ^ "Marton Csokas to Play the Villain in The Equalizer". Retrieved 18 May 2013. 
  11. ^ "Filming Locations". IMDB. Retrieved 15 June 2015. 
  12. ^ "Harry Gregson-Williams to Score ‘The Equalizer’". June 21, 2013. Retrieved September 27, 2014. 
  13. ^ "Varese Sarabande to Release Harry Gregson-Williams’ ‘The Equalizer’ Score". July 31, 2014. Retrieved September 27, 2014. 
  14. ^ "Hear Eminem and Sia's Triumphant New Duet 'Guts Over Fear'". Rolling stone. Retrieved June 26, 2014. 
  15. ^ Schaefer, Sandy (July 28, 2013). "‘The Equalizer’ With Denzel Washington Gets Its Release Date Pushed Back". Screenrant. Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  16. ^ Billington, Alex. "First Look: Denzel Washington from Antoine Fuqua's 'The Equalizer'". First Showing. Retrieved December 6, 2013. 
  17. ^ McDaniel, Matt (April 16, 2014). "'The Equalizer' Poster: Denzel Washington Is on His Way". Yahoo!. Retrieved April 17, 2014. 
  18. ^ Alexander, Bryan (April 22, 2014). "Denzel Washington evens the score as 'The Equalizer'". USA Today. Retrieved April 26, 2014. 
  19. ^ "Watch The First Trailer For Denzel Washington As 'The Equalizer'". Indiewire. May 24, 2014.
  20. ^ Fleischer, Adam (June 12, 2014). "Check Out Eminem’s New Song In ‘The Equalizer’ Trailer". MTV. Retrieved June 13, 2014. 
  21. ^ Anderton, Ethan (July 16, 2014). "Denzel Washington Has a Nice Gun on 'The Equalizer' IMAX Poster". Retrieved July 17, 2014. 
  22. ^ [1]
  23. ^ Vlessing, Etan (25 June 2014). "Imax Finds 'The Equalizer' For September 26 Worldwide Release". Retrieved 25 June 2014. 
  24. ^ Anita Busch (September 26, 2014). "Box Office Late Nights: 'The Equalizer' $1.45M On Way To Nice Weekend For Sony". Retrieved September 28, 2014. 
  25. ^ Saperstein, Pat (September 27, 2014). "Box Office: Denzel Washington’s ‘The Equalizer’ Scores With $36 Million Debut". Retrieved September 27, 2014. 
  26. ^ Scott Mendelson (September 27, 2014). "Box Office: Denzel Washington's 'The Equalizer' Nabs $12.6M Friday". Forbes. Retrieved September 28, 2014. 
  27. ^ Scott Mendelson (September 28, 2014). "Box Office: Denzel Washington's 'The Equalizer' Opens To $35M Weekend". Variety. Retrieved September 28, 2014. 
  28. ^ "TOP OPENING WEEKENDS BY MONTH". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved September 28, 2014. 
  29. ^ Scott Bowles (September 27, 2014). "Sunday Box Office: ‘The Equalizer’ Nabs September Records; ‘Maze Runner,’ ‘Boxtrolls’ Take Youth Vote". Retrieved September 28, 2014. 
  30. ^ Brent Lang (September 28, 2014). "Box Office: 'The Equalizer' Debuts to Smashing $35 Million". Variety. Retrieved September 28, 2014. 
  31. ^ Pamela McClintock (September 28, 2014). "Box Office: Denzel Washington's 'The Equalizer' Scores $35 Million Debut". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 28, 2014. 
  32. ^ Pamela McClintock (September 29, 2014). "International Box Office: 'Maze Runner' Beats 'Equalizer'; 'Lucy' Nears $400M Globally". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 29, 2014. 
  33. ^ Scott Mendelson (September 28, 2014). "Box Office: Denzel Washington's 'The Equalizer' Opens To $35M Weekend". Forbes. Retrieved September 29, 2014. 
  34. ^ Nancy Tartagloine (September 28, 2014). "Int’l Box Office Update: ‘The Equalizer’ Clocks $17.8M In Debut; ‘Maze Runner’ Races To $91M Cume; More". Retrieved September 29, 2014. 
  35. ^ Brent Lang (September 28, 2014). "‘The Maze Runner’ Tops Foreign Box Office for Second Week". Variety. Retrieved September 29, 2014. 
  36. ^ "The Equalizer". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved February 3, 2015. 
  37. ^ "The Equalizer Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved September 28, 2014. 
  38. ^ Sneider, Jeff (February 24, 2014). "Sequel to Denzel Washington Thriller ‘Equalizer’ Moves Forward as Sony Brings Back Writer Richard Wenk". Retrieved February 25, 2014. 
  39. ^ Chitwood, Adam (24 February 2014). "Sony Developing THE EQUALIZER 2 Following Positive Test Scores; Denzel Washington Expected to Return". Collider. 
  40. ^ "‘The Equalizer 2′ Moving Forward After Positive Test Screenings; Denzel Washington Expected To Return". Flicks and Bits. 24 February 2014. 
  41. ^ Lang, Brent (1 October 2014). "‘Equalizer’ Director Antoine Fuqua: ‘I Don’t Believe I Should Filter the Violence’". Variety. Retrieved 5 October 2014. 
  42. ^ "‘Equalizer’ Getting Sequel". Variety. 22 April 2015. Retrieved 23 April 2015. 
  43. ^ "THE EQUALIZER 2 Release Date Set for September 29, 2017". Collider. 11 June 2015. 

External links[edit]