A Walking Swiss Army Knife

The Equalizer 3
Stars: Denzel Washington, Dakota Fanning, David Denman, Sonia Ammar and Remo Girone
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Scriptwriter: Richard Wenk based on “The Equalizer” by Michael Sloan and Richard Lindheim
Composer: Marcelo Zarvosl
Cinematography: Robert Richardson
Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures
Rating: R
Running Length: 109 Minutes

Denzel Washington and Dakota Fanning (his co-star) worked together in 2004 in a thriller about kidnapping for ransom outside the U.S. Washington played the guy hired to protect Dakota and when the kidnapping happens, goes into action to get her back. It is a well put together film and both actors highlight their roles. Fans wondered through the years if the two would ever act together again, well, not to worry, here it is and though they are strangers in the film, their eyes give them away. They are really friends. Denzel is a friend of the director, Antoine Fuqua, having worked with him on “Training Day” and the two previous “Equalizer” movies, in the character of Robert McCall.  There is smooth action here.

The character of “The Equalizer” has been around for a long time, TV series, twice (Edward Woodward and now Queen Latifah), plus a film series, this movie being Number Three. The Equalizer is someone from the sidelines who sees a wrong being done to a poor, innocent person and then goes about righting the wrong. The Equalizer has had training in weapons and really thinks fast as far as action is concerned. Denzel Washington has been “The Equalizer” for three films now and has quite a fan base. His quiet demeanor hides someone who is quick to physically act---usually within seconds---and the bad guys are down for the count.

As the story goes, Robet McCall (Washington) is in Sicily to find stolen currency, but is severely wounded. In escaping, he manages to start driving, but collapses and is found by a local man. McCall takes time to heal, even having to use a cane. He finds he rather likes it here in this small, pleasant village. While healing, he makes an anonymous phone call to a CIA Agent, Emma Collins (Dakota Fanning from “Ripley”) and she finds not only the stolen money, but also, drugs. She tries to track down McCall, but fails. In the meantime, the Mafia, who don’t give up, try again to take over the village for their purposes. They are brutal to villagers for “protection” money and McCall soon finds out who their leader is and bingo, the situation is resolved. Still not willing to give up, the Mafia try again to get rid of police, including Emma. By this time, they are all trying to find Robert McCall and it is a race against time. The word “time” here meaning McCall can decimate a room in 9 seconds by using whatever is handy as a weapon. He is a walking Swiss Army Knife.

The action sequences in “The Equalizer” films are finely wrought. The guy moves so fast, even a speck of dust could be a weapon (eyes?) Mercy is something that happens to the people McCall helps; the rest are on their own. Plot lines are the same with a near-penniless victim trying to get help for a serious problem, McCall takes on the job and away we go. Here, it is in a small village in Sicily. Actually, this isn’t far from the plot in the first Washington/Fanning film, “Man on Fire.” In today’s world, in the character of Emma Collings, Dakota Fanning could easily have a film series of her own. Just saying…

What goes right along with the plot is the soundtrack by Marcelo Zarvosl. There is a softer beat to the music that goes along with the soft voice of Washington as he tells someone just what is going to happen next. Antoine Fuqua’s direction gives the film momentum and centers on vital physical features such as facial expression and hands.

As for acting, Andrea Scarduzio (Vincent) and Andrea Dodera (Marco) are adequate villains. Denzel Washington just walks into the role of McCall as though it was made for him.  The first “Equalizer,” Edward Woodward, wore a long overcoat and drove an expensive car, but that was a different era. Now, the quietness is still there, but situations are different. Dakota Fanning acts with her eyes and you can see pages of dialogue there. From being a little girl rescued (“Man on Fire”) to being on the side of the law, they do make a team. The rest of the cast is there, and do well, but we know who the stars are.

Copyright 2003 Marie Asner

*****(see commentary below)

I have met and interviewed many movie stars, and Denzel Washington’s co-star in “The Equalizer 3”, Dakota Fanning, is also his co-star from their film of 2004, “Man on Fire,” She was 10 years old and in my city at the time to promote a family horse film called “Dreamer.” I was one of the critics to interview her and when it was my turn, I entered the hotel room to find a piano there.  Dakota was studying piano and the hotel had a piano for her to practice on. When she got back to Hollywood, she would be part of a piano recital. I told her mother that in my other profession, I was also a piano teacher. We took over an hour with fingering, smoothing over a rough spot and then she tried it by memory---and got it. I wondered what the other critics thought in another room, at the claps of success. Later, a note came to my newspaper to thank me for my time and that it helped a great deal to keep her focus. The recital went well. There are movie stars and then there are movie stars. Dakota Fanning is a professional with a good family background and has kept in touch with Denzel Washington through the years. You don’t often find this in Hollywood.  Though “The Equalizer 3” is an action film and not for children, there are two adults in that film who have good reputations on and off the screen and know what friendship means.