The Equalizer 3 Review

The Equalizer 3
The Equalizer 3
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Denzel Washington had never made a sequel before The Equalizer 2. It’s significant that Robert McCall is the first character on film he ever agreed to play twice: Although he has always performed completely, it seems very much as if this is his role of choice. Since the initial chapter of the vigilante action series put Washington back together with Antoine Fuqua (who won him his second Oscar for Training Day), the Equalizers have always gone hard and harder. And now we are nearly ten years into this journey with the filmmaker and his star man – who presented a bloody, satisfying, and exquisitely crafted ending right from its beginning. So now we are talking about The Equalizer 3 Movie.

But even though McCall officially quits being an assassin for the government, there are still some wrongs that do not go unnoticed by him. When he faces off with a cartel in Southern Italy, he gets shot but then saved by an angel and taken to heal in one of those coast towns. Soon enough McCall sees signs of a community that is oppressed and violent under local gangsters’ control. There are however smaller fish bosses whose Sicilian mafia constitutes the bigger boss of them all. Therefore, when it comes to defending his new friends and their livelihoods, McCall lets hell loose.

Tipping off CIA agent Emma Collins (Dakota Fanning) forms part of his plan on how to outmaneuver the mob which brings Washington and Fanning back together almost twenty years after acting together in Man on Fire. As much as an end to McCall’s arc, however, The Equalizer 3 serves as a companion piece to Tony Scott’s actioner; casualness about interactions between Washington and Fanning is what makes them so familiar and real at times. These two appear like strangers watching each other outside but even sharing lunch despite sitting together in a coffee shop reveals how well they know each other gradually. This turns a functional exchange into something that’s far more connected though they have fewer scenes together in the same space.

While there is an ongoing internal conflict, Washington seems to be more comfortable in McCall’s skin than ever before. It’s amazing how he manages to show this both in a calm time (for instance when he sets up his table at the café like a ritual) and in moments of violence (such as shooting bad guys in some dark alleys). The stillness amid all the chaos shows just how much centered McCall is. Moreover, it is fascinating because this character – who has always been meting out justice with contained, almost indifferent rage – feels like there is more at stake here on a personal level. Is this Washington’s best work? No, but it’s another outstanding performance riding on one of those tight scripts by Richard Wenk again and undoubtedly the greatest turn of his career franchise-wise.

In terms of tone and optics, the third film’s locale offers a different aesthetic than the first two; this is somewhat daring but also very welcome in The Equalizer 3. These films couldn’t achieve such a fundamental dynamic that is shown when McCall feels so at home while being a fish out of water. Choosing three-time Oscar-winning cinematographer Robert Richardson was definitely the right move by the filmmakers because he uses rich, deep reds, earthy tones, dark shades, and blacks to bring out a variety of textures and lushness that are opposed to the cold cityscapes depicted in the first two movies. Although those earlier films had great action scenes, The Equalizer 3 has some of its best action sequences – not bad for a year that also included John Wick: Chapter 4 and Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning. It’s more of a traditional showcase of skills although equally creative.


What most sequels can’t do is exhibit style, energy, and cohesiveness as seen in The Equalizer 3 which marks an end to the trilogy on a high note. Fuqua and Washington have come full circle with their show-stopper dessert act after serving up a solid three-course meal over almost ten years.

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