Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Washington Superb in 'The Equalizer'

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Washington Superb in 'The Equalizer'

Article excerpt

Robert McCall may not realize it yet, but he is talking about himself in describing "The Old Man and the Sea" to a fellow customer in the all-night diner.

"The old man met his greatest adversary just when he thought that part of his life was over," he says. "You gotta be who you are in this world, right? No matter what."

In "The Equalizer," McCall (Denzel Washington) is introduced as an apron-wearing clerk in a home improvement store who leads an aggressively orderly and quiet life.

Insomnia drives him to the Boston eatery that seems straight out of an Edward Hopper painting - a haven of light in the darkness - although these patrons include the mysterious McCall working his way through a list of 100 great books and the teen who calls herself Teri (Chloe Grace Moretz).

She is a prostitute under the control of ultraviolent Russians, and when she is injured, McCall tries to buy her freedom, but the gangsters will have none of that. He breaks his vow to leave his old life behind and executes a bloody, swift purge, tackling a room of armed attackers and trying to help the girl who had nowhere to turn.

He might be the Equalizer, but the Russians weren't just any mobsters and the carnage attracts attention from all sides of the law (clean and mainly dirty) and up the criminal chain.

There is no going back, though, in director Antoine Fuqua's muscular, often violent, intense drama that hinges entirely on Mr. Washington's performance. Three months shy of turning 60, the actor dominates the screen even more than he did in his younger days, and he still moves like a high school athlete strolling off the basketball court after sinking free throws.

In the earliest "Equalizer" scenes, he is a fatherly figure, coaching and counseling "progress, not perfection" to a Home Mart co-worker who wants to become a security guard. …

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