The Equalizer (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Antoine Fuqua|
|Produced by||Todd Black
|Screenplay by||Richard Wenk|
|Based on||The Equalizer
by Michael Sloan
Chloë Grace Moretz
|Music by||Harry Gregson-Williams|
|Edited by||John Refoua|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Box office||$192.3 million|
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 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 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. 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 17th.
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. The song also plays over the closing credits.
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 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. The film played 52% male and 65% 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).
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." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 57 out of 100, based on 41 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
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 said it was an interesting character and the sequel could have more of an international flavor.
On April 22, 2015, a sequel was confirmed, with Washington returning to his role. 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.
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- 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.
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