Denzel Washington stars in this cinematic take on the popular 1980s crime-of-the-week television series of the same name. (Don’t remember it? It won Emmys and Golden Globes in its four-season run from 1985-89 and featured a gray-haired, doughy British actor, Edward Woodward, in the title role.)
Whether or not you’re a fan of the TV show, here are five things everyone should know before buying the ticket and walking into that dark movie theater.
1. It is seriously violent.
Sure, we’re used to middle-aged kick-ass avenging angels thanks to, well, every movie Liam Neeson has been in, in the past 10 years. But “The Equalizer” is like two “Taken” flicks as co-directed by John Woo and Nicolas Winding Refn. (Actually, the director is Antoine Fuqua, who worked with Washington before in “Training Day”.) McCall is the MacGuyver of murder here, taking anything that’s close at hand to fend off his foes, and then adding a little spit and spackle to make it that much more deadly. During the showdown in a home improvement store, the violence is downright balletic as our hero goes ballistic with chainsaws, razor wire, drills, and claw hammers.
2. Little Chloë Grace Moretz is all grown up.
The apple-cheeked child star is now a hot-pants wearing, fetish wig donning lady of the evening in “The Equalizer”. She plays Teri, an underage prostitute in a ring run by the Russian mob, who befriends a bookish stranger… who just turns out to be McCall. And McCall doesn’t take kindly to child abuse. After Teri’s pretty face is burned with acid thrown by her wrathful pimp (Alex Veadov), McCall calls up his old powers of persuasion and goes on the warpath.
3. You have to wait a pretty long time for all that violence.
As one astute reviewer put it, “The Equalizer” feels like an odd mix between “Death Wish” and “Reading Rainbow,” because McCall is not only a passionate bookworm, who spends his long, lonely nights leafing through Hemingway and Cervantes in a local diner, he’s also the fat police, admonishing his overweight coworker (Johnny Skourtis) whenever the tubby wanna-be security guard goes over his allotted daily calorie count. McCall spends at least a half a non-violent hour just reading, counseling, and joking around with his fellow cashiers and shelf-stockers at the home improvement warehouse. Oh -- and he also does a back-up dance, ala Gladys Knight and the Pips, circa 1972.
4. “The Equalizer” movie is nothing like “The Equalizer” series.
In the TV show, McCall was a middle-aged divorcee living in a gritty pre-Giuliani New York. In the movie, he’s a middle-aged widower living in a gritty post-recession Boston. In the TV show, McCall prowled the night streets in search of bad guys while riding in a sleek, classic Jaguar. In the movie, he has a boring day job and takes public transit. In the series, the Equalizer advertised his special pro-bono revenge services in the classifieds. In the film, McCall is trying to keep a low profile. And so on.
5. There are more false endings than a “Lord of the Rings” movie.
All’s well that ends well. Well, sure… but it’s not the end. Just when you think the last loose thread has been pulled, there’s another one. And when you think the end has really come, it’s only near. Wait for the parting shot that’s sets it all up for an “Equalizer” sequel.
Overall, I liked “The Equalizer”. What’s not to like about Denzel Washington? Everyone’s his biggest fan, right? And as usual, he’s quite good at striking the balance between affable and bad-ass. The movie is overly long, and certainly overly-violent in contrast to its sometimes preachy do-right earnestness, but it’s well worth a look.
“The Equalizer” opens nationwide on Friday, September 26, 2014. (Photos Courtesy Sony Studios).
While Automata, the new dystopian science fiction film from visionary Spanish director Gabe Ibáñez, does indeed deliver an intelligent robot plot… they just couldn’t resist making one of the mechanical minxes a former sex surrogate. (Not that there's anything wrong with that...)
The shapely, souped-up Roomba first shows up in lingerie and a fetish wig, but soon shucks her trappings and goes on the run (or lockstep as the case may be) with the human she’s been programmed to protect -- Antonio Banderas as an unwilling fugitive from the corrupt corporation he once worked for.
While the film is actually not great, it does boast a great, gritty look and feel. The robots – there are some male machines in the mix as well – are 100% mechanical yet textured with non-sappy human traits.
The mere fact this movie was made, and more movies like it are poised on the horizon, shows just how fascinated we continue to be with the possibility of artificial intelligence in people-shaped packages. Ever since Maria made her debut in Metropolis way back in 1927, we’ve been fascinated with the possibility of man-and-machine relations.
Until Automata hits theaters in limited release on October 10, check out these racy robots from days of yore.
Playboy Playmate played the ultimate plaything in the low-budget 1980 sci-parody Galaxina.
Jude Law portrayed to perfection a foxy ‘bot built to serve a woman’s every need and desire in A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001).
Kristanna Loken as T-X (“Terminatrix”) made male temperatures rise as the first on-screen female Terminator in Rise of the Machines (2003).
Way back in 1973, Yul Brynner was a badass leather-clad killing machine in Westworld, one of the first fantasy-horror takes on the genre. (The gold standard of bots gone bad would really come alive in ‘75 with the release of The Stepford Wives.)
Daryl Hannah brought sex and style to the screen in the 1982 epic Blade Runner as Pris, a “basic pleasure model” replicant.
1. Daniel Radcliffe in Devil Horns
Yep, with the title Horns you do get what you expect to see. The film follows Ig Perrish (Daniel Radcliffe) the underachieving son of well-to-do parents and the boring boyfriend of restless beauty Merrin (Juno Temple). Ig’s life suddenly gets interesting when his sweet S.O. is brutally slain and he’s the sole suspect. Shortly after that, Ig sprouts a pair of hellish horns and the sight of them compels mere mortals to confess their sins to him - an effective tool in his quest to discover the true circumstances of the crime and for getting revenge on her killer.
2. Juno Temple Dancing to Classic David Bowie
In a flashback scene showing the evolution of Ig and Merrin’s love fest, we see how they bonded over Bowie. The two love lovebirds have a secret tree-house in the forest where they dance and romance. In one lavishly-lensed scene, Merrin does a sensuous, solo slow dance in a see-through sheath dress to the spinning vinyl of “We Could Be Heroes”. Ig disrobes and they make the branches sway.
3. Heather Graham as a Fame-Famished Waitress
While the spontaneously sprouted horns never really register with the locals, the shocking murder certainly is a springboard for hot headlines. The small Pacific Northwestern logging town is soon overrun with reporters from all over place, each vying for the best angle. The night server at Eve’s Diner is just dying to be a part of the media circus that surrounds local star / possible killer Ig Perrish, and in a small but memorable role, Graham’s character gets a lot more recognition than she bargained for.
4. James Remar is Remarkable as Ig’s Deadpan Dad
James Remar has a long and storied career – from his breakout role in The Warriors (1979) to Dexter’s devious dad on the long-running Showtime series of the same name. So it’s always a pleasure to see him onscreen, even if only in a supporting role. He’s tops in Horns as drab Derrick, a guy who prefers his drug-addict musician son Terry (Joe Anderson) to the straight and narrow Ig, just because Terry can play a mean trumpet. But that’s not the only mean thing here, as Remar reels off his real reasons (remember: the sight of the horns compels folks to tell the awful truth) for believing Ig actually murdered Merrin.
While Horns is a mixed bag – tonally, it can’t quite decide if it’s fable or grit – the flick’s well worth a look.
Kylie Bucknell (Morgana O'Reilly) is in trouble again. She’s been given quite a few breaks, being young and bright, but this time the judge has had enough: unrepentant Kylie is sentenced to house arrest, ankle-bracelet and all, and forced to live with her nattering mum Miriam (Rima Te Wiata) and stoic step-dad Graem (Ross Harper). That’s worse than prison, as far as Kylie’s concerned. She settles into a sulk, doing nothing but zoning out in front of the TV set, eating her parents out of house and home, and basically not lifting a finger. But Kylie soon learns she’s not the only housebound soul… someone else is forced to stay within the walls of the creepy, creaky old homestead. Someone who may or may not be alive.
If you’ve been dreaming of a Kiwi terror take on The Sixth Sense as it meets Home Alone blended with Bad Ronald, then you’ve come to the right place. Writer-director Gerard Johnstone cleverly twists and shifts genres into a mysterious, hilarious Rubik’s Cube of haunted-house suspenser, whodunit and family comedy as his heroine walks the tightrope of fear and fun – all the while trying to keep her ankle monitor from alerting her parole officer, Amos (Glen-Paul Waru). Of course, that does happen and when he joins the fray, the action really, er, steps up. Add Kylie’s court-appointed a psychologist, Dennis (Cameron Rhodes) to the mix, and we’re off and running.
First and foremost, Housebound succeeds as a horror film – it’s got some great jump-scares, a compelling plot-twisty mystery, and oh yes: plenty of gore. What makes it succeed is Johnstone’s nearly flawless juggling act – he never allows the humor to overshadow the scares. The actors’ deadpan delivery of droll dialogue is delish, and the kills are quite wicked.
Lock yourself in, and have a look. Just in time for Halloween, XLrator Media will be releasingHousebound in theaters, VOD and iTunes on October 17th.