Denzel Washington plays Robert McCall, a Boston widower, all-night-diner regular and avenging angel who likes to even the odds. If you’re an abused prostitute in need of a pimp beatdown, he’ll be there. If you’re a chubby co-worker lacking the motivation to lose weight and land that big security-guard promotion, he’ll put you on a fitness regimen. But there’s some sad maths happening when Hollywood tries to equalise one of its most distinctive leading men with generic action parts that even Liam Neeson would scowl at.
‘The Equalizer’ is a dumb movie, unwilling to allow Washington even a hint of uniqueness: unlike the Reagan-era TV show on which it’s based – a slick cross between ‘Miami Vice’ and ‘Death Wish’ – his character here has no weakness, no personal stake, no grown-up children to apologise to. All he has are interchangeable Russian scumbags to impale, and impale them he does (one with a corkscrew). These murky mano-a-manos require no further explanation, apart from why the ending was apparently shot in a poorly lit B&Q superstore – an apt climax for a movie in desperate need of retooling.