Denzel Washington won his second Academy Award for his first collaboration with director Antoine Fuqua, so it is not surprising that the pair have worked together multiple times since. In addition to remaking The Magnificent Seven, the star and director have turned 1980s crime series “The Equalizer” into a successful action franchise. The first two installments were action-packed, turning the network-safe show into some of the most intense American action films of the twenty-first century. While The Equalizer 3 slows down the pace of the narrative to close out the film series, there is still enough brutal action to satisfy fans.
After an unexplained opening sequence in which former U.S. Marine and DIA officer Robert McCall (Washington) infiltrates a winery in Sicily occupied by a crime enforcer, an injury leaves him incapacitated in a small fictional Italian village named Altamonte. After being discovered injured by local law enforcement agent Gio Bonucci (Eugenio Mastrandrea) and treated by the town’s doctor Enzo Arisio (Remo Girone), McCall feels indebted to the citizens who quickly accept him into the community.
An opportunity to pay back the town back comes when members of the Italian organized crime group known as the Camorra begin harassing the citizens of Altamonte. McCall realizes the crime group is attempting to harass the villagers out of their homes in a development scheme, and steps in with his signature skillset. Although the film is a slow burn, it leads up to a climactic showdown between McCall and the criminal organization. This is where the franchise’s signature graphic violence is implemented, even if isolated from the character-building first two acts.
In many ways it is Washington’s performance that makes the violence more palatable, because he is convincing as a kind man capable of vicious violence in the service of justice. The type of retribution McCall serves may be morally questionable, but the film makes the villains pure evil rather than complexly written characters, so the audience is less inclined to care about their fate. The Equalizer 3 does a decent job of balancing character-driven drama and spectacle-driven action, even if they often feel as if they would naturally belong to two different narratives. Those who enjoy the cruel violence may also find the slow pace of the film’s character development and sentimental approach to a resolution for McCall tiresome. Similarly, those who enjoy the subtleties of Washington’s dramatic performance may not have a taste for the violence the narrative devolves into.
The Blu-ray release of The Equalizer 3 also comes with a digital code to stream the film through the Movies Anywhere App. Exclusive to the Blu-ray disc is over fifteen minutes of deleted scenes, for anyone who enjoyed the slower pace of the third film and want more of the character development and filler sequences. The special features also include a featurette about frequent collaborators Fuqua and Washington, and another about the reunion between Washington and co-star Dakota Fanning following their starring roles together in Man on Fire (2004). The remaining featurettes cover the action sequences, the shooting location of the Amalfi Coast, and the character of Robert McCall. There is also a lyric video of “Monster” by Jacob Banks. Exclusively sold at Walmart, the Blu-ray release is also available in a steelbook case.
Entertainment Value: 7/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 7/10
Historical Significance: 5/10
Special Features: 7.5/10