Star Rating:

The Equalizer 3

Director: Antoine Fuqua

Actors: Denzel Washington, Dakota Fanning, David Denman

Release Date: Friday 1st September 2023

Genre(s): Action, Crime, Thriller

Running time: 108 minutes

Following a violent encounter with Sicilian mobsters, retired CIA assassin Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) finds himself wounded by a stray bullet and recuperates in a secluded village in Naples. There, he slowly begins to find peace in himself. However, when a local drug kingpin desires control of the village for his own ends, McCall must go back to his violent ways with the help of a young analyst (Dakota Fanning)...

It's been fascinating to watch Denzel Washington's career vacillate between bravura performances in Oscar adjacent movies like 'Fences' and 'The Tragedy of Macbeth' and his more potboiler work like 'Inside Man', 'Unstoppable', and 'Crimson Tide'. Yet in 'The Equalizer', adapted from a ropey '80s TV serial with Edward Woodward, Washington may have found the genre character he was perhaps born to play. What makes 'The Equalizer' so unique in comparison with other OAP actioners is that Washington doesn't have to sprint five miles or throw himself through plate-glass windows to get a rise out of the audience. Nor does it require the director - Antoine Fuqua, in this case - to constantly cut and edit around him in order to hide the stand-in doubles or the ropey CGI.

Washington's screen presence and his menacing aura does so much more than any of that, and what's more, 'The Equalizer 3' is a better movie for it. The opening sequence sees Washington's character drive the barrel of a revolver through someone's eye-socket and then fire it off at someone else with the the revolver still in situ. Later, he mercilessly stabs a helpless Italian henchman to death and leaves the knife jammed into the poor bastard's gullet for all to see. Compared to other movies of this ilk played by lesser actors, Washington really does go about his business on screen like a one-man death squad.

Indeed, Antoine Fuqua straddles the line between superhero movie and horror movie with Washington's antics. The manner in which he brutalises criminals is sadistic and calculated, not unlike some kind of a serial killer who has some twisted sense of natural justice. The poor villagers, meanwhile, are helpless against the violence of the Camorra and are terrorised by them like it's an old-school Western by Sergios Leone and Corbucci. When Washington's character strikes against them, it's almost superhuman how much damage he does and he's gone into the night once again.

Outside of Washington, however, there's little to write home about. Even reuniting with his 'Man On Fire' co-star Dakota Fanning does little to make an impact. The villains that Washington dispatches are garden variety Eurotrash villains, complete with neck tattoos and gaudy jewellery. The kindly townsfolk aren't much of anything, but at least the town itself looks warm and inviting. Ultimately, you know what you're getting from 'The Equalizer 3' and it's pointless expecting any more from it. It's not trying to be anything other than something that's made by talented craftspeople to do nothing other than boil the pot.