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  • Robert Farago

The Equalizer 3 - Movie Review

A gore-fest masquerading as a movie (SPOILERS from the git-go)

The Equalizer 3 starts as it means to finish: as a snuff film. The fact that Denzel Washington’s Robert McCall isn’t seen killing the opening scene’s parade of grotesquely murdered bodies is neither here nor there.

We know he did it. We know he’s going to do it again. A lot. Which he does, both immediately and later. Roll credits.

That’s just the plot – not a big deal for this kind of movie (hardly an inconvenience). It’s the merciless, degrading way McCall offs the introductory villain that makes you wonder why we’re rooting for the homicidal spy-turned-vigilante.

McCall blasts crime enforcer Lorenzo Vitale in the ass with a shotgun as the wounded bad guy crawls away (shown here). Then BAM to his face. The corpse is ready for its close-up!

This is before we know what triggered McCall’s savagery. An explanation saved for the movie’s anti-penultimate scene.

We’ve been here before. Clint Eastwood wrote the book on tight-lipped sang froid.

Whereas Detective “Dirty” Harry Callahan was powered by a combination of righteousness and cynicism, Denzel Washington’s McCall is powered by empathy.

The Equalizer 3 wants us believe that McCall is more than a cold-blooded killing machine. He’s a conflicted killing machine. Deeply conflicted.

After eliminating everyone in the first criminal’s compound, the vic’s prepubescent son shoots McCall in the back (missed his ass by that much).

The stricken spook falls to the ground, puts his pistol to his head and pulls the trigger. CLICK!

WHAT? A suicidal Equalizer is about as far from the Eastwoodian ideal as you can get without hiring Will Ferrell.

While the plot point jives with America’s post-Afghanistan angst about the use of violence, McCall’s suicidal self-recrimination is an inexplicable repudiation of the character’s trademark cool.

The local Doc attending to McCall’s wound asks if he’s saving a good man or a bad man. “I don’t know,” McCall groans.

The Doc reckons the ambiguous answer proves that McCall’s a good man. I reckon it proves that McCall is a woos.

Perhaps McCall’s short-lived existential angst was the scriptwriter’s attempt to recapture the tension eliminated by opening the movie with Fun Ways to Die.

Anyway, the Afro-American one-man army falls in love with the lighter-colored people inhabiting Altomonte, a picture postcard village clinging to the rugged Amalfi coast. The real-life stomping grounds of the ‘Ndrangheta (a.k.a., Calabrian mafia).

The make-believe movie mafia fucks with McCall’s new friends (“You’re one of us now!”) and subsidizes terrorists who almost blow-up Dakota Fanning (which would be a shame).

Needless to say, the mafia’s meddling leads to a warm-up killing spree for the un-retired avenger, followed by a blood-soaked reprise of the opening scene. Ta-Da!

And will you look at that? McCall’s self-doubt is washed away by the copious carnage. He emerges from the slaughter happy as a clam, ready to celebrate the villagers’ soccer victory.

The Equalizer 3 is all in good fun, I suppose. Mindless murder in a money-making movie. A 94 percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes! But I miss its inspiration: the 1985 network TV original.

Edward Woodward’s Robert McCall used his brains and Agency contacts to rescue average everyday New York City folks from injustice and exploitation.

Over 21 episodes, the show featured a host of famous or soon-to-be-famous character actors, surprising plot twists and a wikkid pissa Jaguar XJ saloon.

That McCall’s body count was zero. Yet the series was so much more engaging than Denzel’s third-person shooter.

I hope Hollywood is true to its word: that they’re done turning the retired British spy into little more than an ultra-violent American vigilante. Snuff said?

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