Some movies spark an urge to travel, fall in love, or even eat your way through a new city. Ironically, The Equalizer 3 gave us all those urges while also allowing us to enjoy intense death scenes and bloody vengeance.
I want to travel to a coastal city in Italy, drink un caffè at a little bistro where the locals know my name, eat pasta con carne or the fresh fish of the day, and fall in love with a tiny town that embraces me as one of their own. Don’t worry, this is not Eat, Pray, Love. I mean that The Equalizer 3 is more than just your average film about a protective retired assassin who saves the day.
Denzel Washington has always been THAT guy, especially for the Black community. He is our inspiration, our favorite actor (even if we don’t know it). If you google “top Black actors,” he is number one, and for good reason. Washington is known for his engaging and powerful performances. He’s done so much to help alter the perception that Black actors can’t bring in that mainstream (white) audience. Everybody loves Denzel!
When it comes to this particular genre, in the beginning, people were fascinated by Taken (2008), and it was popular enough to become a trilogy. But Taken 2 and Taken 3 weren’t as great as the first. People are head over heels for John Wick (myself included). He’s another ex-whatever thrust back into the world he tried to leave behind. Here’s the thing: All these men have “a very particular set of skills,” but when it comes down to it, if I need help from kidnappers, mafia, mob, or even military assassins, between Robert McCall (Washington), Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson), and John Wick (Keanu Reeves), I’m going with McCall.
In The Equalizer 3, we find Robert, aka Roberto, in Italy, serving justice for those who have been egregiously wronged and can’t do much about it themselves. He seeks peace and finds local crime bosses and the Italian mafia in a little heavenly corner of Southern Italy. Robert is making new friends and family and finding his zen, post-demolishing an entire vineyard-turned-compound.
When the people he cares about are taken advantage of and threatened, he becomes protective and wants them to live their best lives. This is bad for the Italian mafia, who want to eliminate all the locals for personal gain. Like always, McCall gives them a chance to do right. They are disinclined to acquiesce to his request, so blood rains.
With returning director Antoine Fuqua and returning writers Richard Wenk, Michael Sloan, and Richard Lindheim (based on the television series created by Sloan and Lindheim), we are given some great action and fun dialogue in this third installment. The film also welcomes Dakota Fanning (Emma Collins) to the franchise, as well as Eugenio Mastrandrea (Gio), Remo Girone (Enzo), Andrea Scarduzio (Vincent), and Andrea Dodero (Marco).
It was a pleasure to see Washington and Fanning back on screen together. We haven’t seen them together since Man on Fire, when Fanning was 9 or 10 years old (now 29). Their chemistry is fantastic. It was like a teacher with their favorite student, or even better, a father-daughter relationship. Washington completely embodies his character, Robert McCall. From the little random comedy moments in dialogue to the deafening stare from across the room, his character is so fun to watch on screen. The Equalizer 3 is very engaging; our compliments to the cast. Automatically, working in a film with Washington means you step up your game.
The film has humor and heart, with stunning cinematography and fantastic action scenes. A major round of applause goes to the special effects team and makeup department for every bit of blood splatter committed in this film. The blood and death scenes, while intense, were brilliant.
There were a few chuckles and OMG moments as Denzel “murderized” (beyond even a regular homicide) someone on screen. But it was all done in an impressively different way from other films in this category. There were no surprise twists or turns. It was straightforward and still creative. The dialogue was enhanced from the first two Equalizer films, as was the story. There was a stronger connection to McCall’s situation and his purpose.
Out of everything that happens in this movie, including the slaughter of bad guys, the only real question we had at the end was, why did the lady have no pants on? But I chalk it up to the Italian culture that, honestly, given how hot it’s been lately, I can get behind.
The Equalizer 3 from Sony and Columbia Pictures hits theaters exclusively on Friday, September 1, 2023.
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Born and raised in Southern California, Catalina is a freelance journalist and film critic. You can also find her work on blackfilm.com and documentary.org. She has moderated and served on film panels, interviewed casts and crews of various films, and has been a juror for the New Orleans Film Festival. Catalina is a member of numerous critics' associations, including the Critics Choice Association, African American Film Critics Association, the Online Association of Female Film Critics, and the Hollywood Creative Alliance, as well as a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic.