While certainly not Denzel Washington’s finest hour – or two and a bit hours – this feature film reboot of a late 80’s TV series could be the franchise vehicle the man was not looking for in the first place.
A kindly senior, working at a large Hardware store, Robert McCall, is in fact an ex-hitman who wades into the middle of a rather large and intricate Russian web of illegal activity, after he stands up for the rights of an underage prostitute, played by Chloë Grace Moretz.
Ultra-violent, and ultimately an infantile fantasy revenge film, this is ground that has been trodden so much more stylishly on many previous occasions.
With the big screen exploits of Charles Bronson who debuted Death Wish in 1974, taking the series to a total of five features by 1994 , Liam Neeson in the Taken Series – the third due in 2015, Mel Gibson in Mad Max 1-3, Clint Eastwood in the Dirty Harry films (5), and if we can count Bruce Willis as the five Die Hard’s John McClane, these are characters movie-goers love to see give the bad guys what’s coming to them.
These and many more actors have scored big paydays from finding the right badass to play in vigilante franchises, and this might just be Washington’s first sequel, and first franchise opportunity.
I thought it was rather tasteless and stupid. It went on far too long to the point of becoming laboured and dull, and seemed to offer an unnecessary release by representing inflicting violent actions against all the “bad people” in the world.
It uses violence as a suitable way of seeking justice, and although appealing to the bloodlust in all of us, in the current climate of extremists on all fronts looking for retribution, it’s out of step with actually presenting a useful solution to our troubled times.
Not that this is Hollywood’s job, of course, nor are most of us looking to be preached to when we escape to the cinema, but in every other example above, the protagonist has his own family placed in jeopardy and does “what needs to be done” to either rescue them or avenge their demise. The Equalizer’s McCall kills 4 or 5 gangsters in cold blood after one of them dishes out a bashing to a call-girl in their employ.
I’m undecided on a score out of five.
What I do know is – there are far batter Denzel Washington films to enjoy, and far better vigilante tales to watch.