Though it has little in terms of story and plot, The Equalizer 3 should be a fitting farewell to the 1985 television show’s ably put together big-screen adaptation, directed by Antoine Fuqua.
It stars a visibly tired Denzel Washington as Robert McCall — a wise man who first warns his targets of their fleeting last few seconds on Earth before flicking the timer on, and then picking them off one by one. As we’ve seen in the previous two films, his skill and his judgement on time is never off.
In Part 3, after he has killed a crime enforcer and his lot at a secluded winery in Sicily, McCall’s journey comes to a full-stop when he is shot in the back by the mafioso’s young boy. Bleeding and nearly dead, in a moment of shock, McCall contemplates suicide — probably because he has had enough, or he doesn’t have much to look forward to.
Once a good worker with a minimum wage job, former Marine McCall had turned into a saviour for people in need: teenage prostitutes who wanted to run away from their Russian mafia masters (Part 1) or former Defence Intelligence Agency colleagues betrayed by other colleagues (Part 2). Here, the big reveal of the job — perhaps the simplest reason one could fathom — comes at the end of the film.
After watching Equalizer 3, you walk away wishing and praying this is last of the series
As McCall lays dying in the opening sequence, and the film fades to black — by the way, there are way too many fades to black in the film — one expects the story to explain how McCall came to that winery in Sicily. Instead, the story chugs forward to a small Italian coastal town, where he is patched up.
Limping around, he realises the serene, secluded nature of the place. Though we don’t see sparks fly, a young woman (Gaia Scodellaro) who runs a coffee shop, and is probably half his age, takes him to dinner with the flicker of a romance relegated to a cameo because the small story has a side-track that reunites actress Dakota Fanning with Washington (they last starred together in Tony Scott’s remake of Man on Fire in 2004).
Richard Wenk’s screenplay — he has written all three films — has been linear and minimalistic since the first Equalizer. Here, like Washington’s weary portrayal of a worn-out good guy seeking retirement, the plot’s intricacies have become predictable.
There is no intrigue, sense of excitement or dread. When McCall recovers, we know he is going to clean the clock of the town’s local mob; the man — who, by the way, speaks Italian for a good chunk of the film — has been unstoppable.
Fuqua’s able-handed direction keeps you from walking away from the cinema, but once you do walk away at the end of the film, you hope to keep walking, wishing and praying that the Equalizer filmmakers hold true to their claims that this is the final chapter.
Released by Sony Pictures, The Equalizer 3 is rated PG for bloody violence
Published in Dawn, ICON, September 17th, 2023