Robert McCall is a retired Black Ops agent who now works in a hardware store. He lives a relatively lonely life as he has no family to speak of, however he goes down to the local cafe everyday and he meets teenage prostitute Teri (Chloe Grace Moretz). Robert finds her pimp and dispatches him and his cronies expertly. This leads to Russian gangster leader Vladimir Pushkin sending his enforcer Teddy (Martin Csokas) in retaliation and this leads to a violent game of cat and mouse.
Director Antonie Fuqua reunites with Denzil Washington for the first name since Training Day in a B movie action thriller which mixes Taken with Taxi Driver. The whiff of Taxi Driver originates from the central story in which a lone figure rescues a teenage prostitute from the criminal underworld whilst the Taken aspects stem from a lone man fighting with a particular set of skills that make him a danger to Eastern Europeans involved with the sex trade. Much like the Taken franchise The Equalizer doesn't hold back in its brutal violence, this gives the film its B movie aesthetic and a sting which would not have been evident if it had been toned down to a 12A (or PG-13 for the colonials across the pond).
Denzil Washington is a quite remarkable actor, he turns the mundane to the watchable (he made Safe House watchable all by himself) and again here Washington has the gravitas to make the entire adventure worth watching. The first two parts of the film are pretty good, there is well sustained tension, and the relationship building between Teri and Robert feels genuine. However, once the film reaches its third act it descends into the standard action movies clichés with slow motion shots, cool guys walking away from explosions and much more like it. These cinematic clichés and tropes belong in the cinematic dungeon.
Despite the cliche ridden, yet quite exciting, final act the film's B movie appeal, Washington's superb performance and violence that isn't toned down for a PG-13 release is likely to win over the majority of the audience baying for blood.