Jason Bourne, John Wick, Lorraine Broughton, Hutch Mansell, and more—cinematic history is replete with a cadre of exceptionally skilled and seemingly invincible assassins, especially since the days of Leon. Their common trait is their imperviousness to death, and their knack for achieving their objectives in the end, whether with bloodshed or without. Yet, on the other hand, each of them possesses unique character facets. Robert McCall, portrayed by Denzel Washington, may well be one of the most intriguing among them. His peculiarity lies not only in his prowess during action sequences but also in his everyday life, where he harbors peculiar obsessions, making him quite conspicuous to the outside world. He is meticulous and cautious, qualities the film capitalizes on. As spectators, we relish watching such original characters. Simultaneously, our greatest fear as viewers is witnessing protracted series devolve into absurdity and harm their characters. Surprisingly, “The Equalizer 3” manages to confound our expectations by doing something many films fail to achieve.
Let’s briefly delve into the plot. After concluding a job in Sicily and returning, Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) is involved in an unfortunate accident. He finds himself in a small Italian town while recovering under the care of the town’s doctor. During his recovery, he begins to acquaint himself with the town and its inhabitants. Just as he feels he has found his place and settled into the town, he learns that the mafia is threatening it. Consequently, Robert, now embroiled in a new conflict, decides to take on the mafia.
Most extended franchises tend to lose their logical coherence as they progress. The John Wick series provides an exemplary illustration. As series expand, the antagonists also grow in power. In each successive film, a more formidable, higher-ranking, and more perilous adversary emerges, challenging the protagonist. Conflict escalates exponentially with each installment. “The Equalizer 2” followed a similar pattern, casting a shadow over the original. I won’t claim it was a terrible film, but compared to its predecessor, the outcome was less than gratifying. However, the third film has chosen to do something unprecedented by opting not to further enlarge the narrative but to scale it down instead.
The third film unfolds amidst the tranquil silence of a small coastal town. It proceeds at a leisurely pace, offering far less action compared to its predecessors, yet possessing greater spiritual significance. Robert, or as he introduces himself in the film, Roberto, as he becomes more acquainted with the town, we too become assimilated into the fabric of this town as if we were locals. Just as Roberto loves its inhabitants, we too grow fond of them. Consequently, we find ourselves internally accepting, even desiring, the painful moments that the mafia, lurking in the shadows of the town, will experience. The film excels in constructing this emotional foundation.
Director Antoine Fuqua maintains his composure from the beginning to the end of the film. In contrast to the first two films, there is notably less action in this one, and even the action sequences lack the frenetic pace. Everything unfolds and concludes as quietly as the town’s evenings. Nevertheless, despite the hush, the visual dreadfulness of the events surpasses that of the earlier films. Roberto’s ruthlessness stands as one of the film’s most accomplished facets. Additionally, I must commend the film’s approach to harnessing the power of social media. The script adeptly adapts to the new world.
In essence, “The Equalizer 3” is a more tranquil and spiritually enriched film compared to the first two. While many series tend to escalate action and become increasingly absurd with each installment, “The Equalizer 3” diverges from the familiar Robert adventures and diminishes the action to the scale of a small town. This slow but deliberate progression immerses you into the town’s fabric, preparing you for all that transpires. Bringing Dakota Fanning and Denzel Washington together again after 19 years, the film surpasses expectations. It is a well-crafted film that knows where to draw the line and respects its audience’s intelligence. It deserves special commendation for being one of the rare films that respects its viewers.
Cast & Crew
director: Antoine Fuqua
writers: Richard Wenk
starring: Denzel Washington, Dakota Fanning, Gaia Scodellaro, David Denman, Eugenio Mastrandrea, Remo Girone
USA – ITALY | 2023 | 109 MINUTES |