The Equalizer 3

Review by Rich Cline | 3/5

The Equalizer 3
dir Antoine Fuqua
; scr Richard Wenk
prd Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal, Denzel Washington, Antoine Fuqua, Steve Tisch
with Denzel Washington, Dakota Fanning, Eugenio Mastrandrea, Andrea Scarduzio, David Denman, Gaia Scodellaro, Remo Girone, Andrea Dodero, Daniele Perrone, Zakaria Hamza, Manuela Tasciotti, Dea Lanzaro
release US/UK 1.Sep.23
23/US Columbia 1h49

washington fanning fuqua
See also:
The Equalizer (2014) The Equalizer 2 (2018)

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The Equalizer 3
Director Antoine Fuqua is terrific at settings and atmosphere, then allowing his fine casts to do their best. But he struggles with nuance, clearly signalling who's good and bad guys, even though both are dishing out grisly violence. This is being called the final chapter for this brutal vigilante hero, and Denzel Washington is back to give the movie some superb gravitas and just a hint of morality.
Injured after taking down a smuggling ring in Sicily, McCall (Washington) is rescued by friendly policeman Gio (Mastrandrea) and taken to Dr Enzo (Girone). Recuperating in the spectacular fishing village Altomonte (played mainly by Atrani), he becomes part of the local scenery, befriending a waitress (Scodellaro) and fishmonger (Perrone) while warily watching Marco (Dodero), a hotheaded thug working for his mafioso boss brother Vincent (Scarduzio) in Naples. He also calls in a tip to CIA operative Emma (Fanning), who arrives with Frank (Denman) to figure out what's up. Of course, McCall is a step ahead.
Without any question about what McCall is going to do in this situation, the entertainment comes from watching his methodical approach, carefully observing details until he's ready to apply his own brand of vicious justice. It helps that Vincent is such a flailing idiot, unable to control himself for even a second while his goons cruelly make sure the people and the cops are firmly under his thumb. According to Wenk's blunt script, his fatal mistake was going into business with Syrian jihadists. But clearly it was actually daring to cross McCall.

Washington is so achingly cool in this role that there's no need to have seen the earlier films. His ethos and modus operandi are instantly understood simply from the pile of bodies he left behind for the film's opening long-take shot to capture in oddly admiring close-up. Supporting characters orbit him with hushed admiration, with nice people perhaps sharing a wry joke and naughty ones completely missing his intense stare.

All of this is filmed with slick skill that beautifully captures the Italian coastline, its historical architecture and community spirit. So we're thankful that this hulking bald American he-man has come to clean things up. His actions might be staggeringly savage, but we'll cheer anyway as he gives this lovely village back to the kind locals whose ancestors built it. Yes, the film is that cynical. But it's also so well-made that we can't resist wishing McCall would clean up corruption in our own backyard.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 29.Aug.23

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© 2023 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall