The Equalizer 3

Cert - 15, Run-time - 1 hours 49 minutes, Director - Antoine Fequa

Whilst planning to retire in a small Italian town Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) must take down a local gang to do so in peace.

I must admit to not remembering a great deal about the previous two Equalizer films. However, what sticks out from them most is the action. Yet, even then I don’t remember it being as brutal and gory as it is in this third and final instalment of Robert McCall’s (Denzel Washington) big screen ventures. Whilst holding a 15 rating I feel the BBFC have given the top 18 rating to other films for a good deal less. The extent of the violence contrasts with the build-up footage of Washington sitting back in a small Italian town, contemplating retirement.

After being shot in the opening stages, McCall is recuperating within a tight community which quickly begins to accept and welcome him. However, if he wants to settle down in peace he must do so after one last act of vengeance, against a gang striking terror into the square. What bridges the calm with the intense bursts of violence are depictions of the gang’s own dealings, and CIA Agent Collins (Dakota Fanning) closing in from another direction, and trying to work McCall out - the pair slyly back and forth hinting that they know more about the other than they’re letting on.

Yet, while the strands which come together over the course of the film may certainly have an engagement factor the best stuff remains Washington simply relaxing whilst sipping tea and buying fish in Italy. A lot of this, of course, comes from the lead actor’s natural charm - and reminiscent feelings of Katharine Hepburn in Summertime; a film largely concerned with her having a lovely time in Venice for 100 minutes. However, as the blood-lined introduction makes clear, violence will be right around the corner, and it isn’t going to go lightly.

While, as mentioned, the bridges between quiet and loud have their engaging elements there is something of a stop-start nature to them, particularly in the first half as things are still being built-up narratively. Such scenes occasionally feel in need of a slight touch-up as they remind that McCall is the core focus of this film and where much of the strength - including when it comes to the swift nature of the action, well-tracked by director Antoine Fuqua even in the briefest of instances. 

McCall is, once again, a man with a plan. You can see his scheme unfolding in his mind, and indeed being pieced together as well as he prepares to do what it takes to protect the town which he has been so welcomed into. It adds to the effective intensity of the action, especially the key confrontations and third act. While there might be a slight distance for the audience with the scenes of the villains or Fanning and Washington, there’s still an overall engaging nature to the story at play. One which makes for a solid trilogy closer - and perhaps the best of the three.

Jamie Skinner, Three stars ***