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Review: 'Equalizer' entertains without CGI, despite extreme violence

The fall movie season "officially" kicks off with The Equalizer. Sony's hoped for franchise starter, the long awaited film adaptation of the hit 1980s television show, comes at a time when action movies lack much grit, overly relying on CGI to create the action. And even though The Equalizer is relentlessly violent and takes a while to kick into high gear, Denzel Washington's performance, accompanied by some stylish direction by Antoine Fuqua, make the film a grisly, entertaining ride.

As with any of his projects, Washington brings massive credibility, and therefore potential for a film's greatness. Washington is good as Robert McCall, an older gentleman who could probably kill you with his pinky thanks to a skill set acquired over his long, secretive career. Chloe Grace Moretz's character Teri helps humanize McCall, and while she's only in the movie for around 15 minutes, her importance is obvious on screen. The scene stealer this time around, though, is Marton Csokas as the evil, sick and smart villain Teddy. Csokas adds fear to any scene with formidable intelligence and lack of remorse.

Fuqua at the helm also brings weight to his films. With Training Day and last year's hit Olympus Has Fallen under his belt, Fuqua maintains the film's grittiness, using his skills to carry the extreme violence that occupies a lot of this film's runtime. His practical effects and realistic violence elevates the film substantially above CGI fests that plague the movie industry today.

Although the violence may be one of the highlights of the film, it is also one of the downsides. The action in this movie is shocking and graphic, something saved for very few films today. McCall uses anything he can get his hands on, including his own hands, to dispatch villains with extreme prejudice, from barbed wire, to glass shards, to a gun, to a shot glass (yes, a shot glass), and it isn't pretty. The over- the-top violence almost seems like a horror movie.

The Equalizer isn't a short roller coaster ride either, topping two hours. Which means the movie needs massive filler to keep it going. But when a movie features Denzel Washington ending lives with shot glasses, character development is allowed to take a back seat. Filling us in on everything the bad guys are doing, and every time McCall goes to his day job at a Home Depot rip-off, is useless and, at times, even annoying.

Audiences will no doubt flock to see The Equalizer. Anything featuring Denzel Washington on the poster will attract moviegoers of all ages. The movie is a thrill ride with a strong central performance and fantastic direction by Fuqua. Audiences may find themselves slightly bored with the character development, and many will gasp and cringe at the excessive violence. Despite those problems, those audiences will be entertained.

Hunter Eitel is a senior at Riverview High.

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