The Equalizer

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Vampire Owl :: So much violence in the human world. Can’t we watch something else rather than this movie with a gun on the poster?

Vampire Bat :: But I thought you liked violence.

Vampire Owl :: I like a violent me, but not people shooting each other. In the end, we will fail to know who shot who and I have to hit my head on the wall hoping for some vampire enlightenment to pour into my brain lighting it up.

Vampire Bat :: Then, there is Bollywood with this weekend’s movie Happy Ending.

Vampire Owl :: No! Shoot me, thats better. Get the tickets! Get the tickets!

Vampire Bat :: But you don’t like the violent stuff.

Vampire Owl :: I don’t want to die a slow, painful death with some Hindi romantic movie showing for nth time whatever they have doing for years.

Vampire Bat :: But we are not sure about it yet. There are some bad opinions…

Vampire Owl :: I shall hear nothing of Bollywood anymore. If you talk about it again, I am deaf. If you talk about it twice, I am dumb too.

Vampire Bat :: I think that it is a pretty good idea.

[Gets the tickets].

What is it about? :: Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) has retired from his busy job as a secret government agent and is living his life in peace after the death of his wife. He spends his time working in a hardware store and giving no clue to anyone about who he has been. He becomes friends with Ralphie (Johnny Skourtis) a trainee whom he helps to become a security guard, and then there is this teenage girl whom she regularly sees at a tea shop he visits. The girl is Teri (Chloë Grace Moretz), a teenage prostitue who reveals her real name as Aleena, is mistreated and beaten up by her pimp ending up in the ICU – Robert decides to take things into his hands, and to give the girl who loves music and books, a better chance at life. He goes to the pimp Slavi (David Meunier), and offers him 9800 dollars to leave her alone. But as he refuses and uses more foul language about her, Robert kills him and his goons. But the leader of this Russian mafia group, Vladimir Pushkin (Vladimir Kulich) sends his right-hand man Teddy (Marton Csokas) to find and eliminate the killer, and here starts another game.

The defence of The Equalizer :: This movie seems to be trying more to be an origin story, and therefore a few problems of the same can be avoided with ease. There is the perfect setup for the sequel which seems to be everywhere on the news. The movie has some nice dialogues, and the action is not overdone – our protagonist doesn’t try anything too much. He just does what he does the best, and continues to excel at it. There are some nice, beautiful shots from the skyline, and the cinematography keeps catching our attention – there is the stylish sequences which are used too; they are all so good, and makes things interesting when things cool down. There is also that dark and gloomy atmosphere that runs through the movie – check out for our protagonist’s attack at the pimp’s room and the warehouse, both of them done with so much of stylish violence and innovation, even as the latter might be a bit too long for some people. The cast also contributes nicely, and the message to do the right thing is strong in here.

Claws of flaw :: There is that drag in between, and makes one wonder why it was so. There are empty slots where something could be used for fill the space. The story is also rather predictable with the hero going on for having revenge due to something bad done to his younger friend, and being awesome as he is, becomes successful in the same – just like John Wick; that was a revenge seeking former assassin for the dark side, while this one being a similar person who was working for the government. It is something we have seen a lot of times in a different manner. There is a lot of violence out here, and some of it might seem unnecessary for a few people. Even then, there are lots of things which seem to be missing, but I would blame the censor board here for that – they should have got rid of some violence. Well, on television, I have seen the scary parts removed from horror movies and bikini scenes removed from James Bond movies. So, I am not surprised even though I understand the difference.

Performers of the soul :: Denzel Washington – sometimes just that name is enough; there are not many people who can doubt that. He goes through The Equalizer with so much power, as if it could be another vigilante movie franchise starting from now. It is once again impressive how he works – this man with a gun, do people need a lot more? Well, there were two in 2 Guns, but one will do here. He is going to turn sixty this year, not something that we can discover without wikipedia. From the first movie I watched with him being part, The Bone Collector; through my favourite movie, The Book of Eli and now standing in The Equalizer; nothing much has changed. It is always great to see Chloë Grace Moretz – she brings such charm to the screen like nobody else. Unfortunately, even as she is undoubtedly the heroine of the movie, our girl is there only for a few minutes in the beginning, and for an even shorter time in the end – it is a case of sadness which we are left with, along with her smile in the end. Marton Csokas is an interesting villain too, just not getting enough of it.

Soul exploration :: The movie’s opening has these lines from Mark Twain – “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why”. It is the same thing that the protagonist is trying to achieve in this movie – to use his skills to use for the common man. Even in the beginning, we can see that he is trying to help people as much as he can, without going the violent way. For the same, he later transforms, just like the books that he reads – from the retired old man who reads The Old Man and the Sea, through the hopeless knight in Don Quixote and in the end to The Invisible Man who goes through the city unnoticed, and helping the innocents – a Ghost Rider kind of figure who gets rid of the evil souls without any superpowers, but with the skills reminding one of Liam Neeson of Taken. Somewhat Bryan Mills, John Wick and Jack Reacher, this is another guy who has too many skills.

How it finishes :: The end result is that unexpectedly The Equalizer turns out to be better than John Wick, and it is not something that I had expected. Both had their own problem with a certain amount of drag, and the problem of not evolving for the century enough. But even in the troubles, The Equalizer is the superior one; even as there is no doubt about the fact that John Wick will win the box-office battle here, and the credit would go to Keanu Reeves who is more accepted that the big action protagonist more than Denzel Washington, thanks to The Matrix, Constantine and Speed. Gone Girl and Interstellar still stays in our theatres, the latter with so many shows. Dumb and Dumber To won’t pose that much of a challenge though, with lesser opinions and a lot lesser screens. Do give this movie a chance, and as far as you want an action movie without too much of mindless and dumb action, but still doing justice to the genre, this will be the right choice.

Release date: 21st November 2014 (India); 26th September 2014 (USA)
Running time: 131 minutes
Directed by: Antoine Fuqua
Starring: Denzel Washington, Chloë Grace Moretz, Melissa Leo, Marton Csokas, David Harbour, Bill Pullman, Haley Bennett, Vladimir Kulich, David Meunier, Alex Veadov, James Wilcox, Mike O’Dea, Anastasia Mousis

thequalizer

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

2 Guns

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There was the need for an oasis of action among the movies of this Onam, among which none of them was of the much needed action genre, even as at least half of the Malayalam movies of this Onam season were very good. Yes, 2 Guns released here yesterday only, and I have to say that it has been delayed quite a bit, and should be glad to have released this week, as a few others like Elysium are still waiting and waiting, and Grown Ups 2 had its chance only the last Friday. The winner of this weekend should still be the Malayalam movie Sringaravelan, and the word of mouth should be in completely in favour of North 24 Kaatham. As both this day and the next are public holidays, most of these movies should have a good time, also expecting the last days of Onam holidays to boost up the revenue a lot. 2 Guns is one of the five English movies still in the theatres this week, along with Rush, The Conjuring, Grown Ups 2 and Riddick. The advantage of 2 Guns is its star cast and the fact that none of these movies actually rival this one in its genre, even as Riddick is only partially a sci-fi movie.

Now we come to the idea of the buddy-cop comedy movies among which the most known and the most popular might be the Rush Hour series with Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker making the most out of it. I would still wonder if Men in Black can come into the same category, and R.I.P.D. and The Heat hasn’t landed here yet. I shall not look into the older movies either. 2 Guns has landed in this area, but still quite unsure if it is an action comedy or comedy action, as it gets quite serious on regular intervals unlike Rush Hour‘s ever-improving funny side. I would guess that this one won’t do that good business here, even as this is the festival-vacation season, with families, the strength of this season expected to pull out of it completely. The hope might be about The Conjuring scaring people out of the theatres and Rush confusing them away. It has the same certificate as Grown Ups 2 and Riddick, and it would depend on how much the star name of Mark Wahlberg will sell around here, with the recently popular R-rated comedy Ted and Max Payne of the computer gamers’ paradise, even as both of them hadn’t released here.

The movie tells the tale of two criminals who turn out to be on the other side of the law later; Robert Trench (Denzel Washington) and Michael Stigman (Mark Wahlberg) as the former is an undercover DEA agent and the latter an undercover Naval Intelligence Officer; both of them thinks that the other one is a criminal though. But their attempt to steal the money of Papi Greco (Edward James Olmos) from a bank ends them in trouble, as they end up losing both the money as well as blowing their cover. Trench’s lover Deb Rees (Paula Patton) who knew about all these also seems to be on another side which they are not aware about. They have to run from more than one group who is after them, which leaves them with no choice but to work together, this time knowing each other’s identity. They even try kidnapping the drug lord, but that too misfires. So the question will be on who will shoot whom, sided with which person and who will get the large amount of stolen money in a world of treachery and complete chaos which follows the fall of two men from their respective forces.

So what do we get? There is one thing we can be sure about, that is lots of fun and action. There are lots of gunshots involved as expected, but not that much of melee combat. The hand-to-hand combat takes the backseat as the guns take over. These kind of movies seem to make sure that there are also a good number of funny lines, and this one is no exception in that case, and one thing which this movie does by its own is making sure that Paula Patton is gorgeous, which is accomplished by just two scenes; that should be new as one wonders if she was there more for those two occasions only (not denying her character the double-crossing), as she doesn’t really get much screen presence compared to her tough role in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. But she is still our dazzling lady in the lead, with not many others around who are there for more than five minutes. What the movie does is nothing not too obvious, and nothing close to being a normal logical story. We still know what might happen next, even as what we know is not really what should be happening without a willing suspension of disbelief. There is not that much power to strengthen the plot either, even as there is the sincere effort to keep it not that simple.

Mark Wahlberg steals the show, and there is absolutely no reason why someone would think otherwise, unless Paula Patton’s moments which contributed to the movie’s rating steals the same for a few seconds. Even as the critics didn’t give that much to his Planet of the Apes and Max Payne, I would say that those were my favourites from him along with Ted, without denying The Italian Job and Shooter their due and this won’t add to it. He comes up with the funniest lines of the movie, and if a character was to bring cheers from the audience, it was his, as the chicken-eating, chicken-loving man who can’t bear to see the chickens being tortured. The last time I watched a Denzel Washington movie was Unstoppable, if not The Book of Eli. He is there for almost the same time as his partner, but a little lesser in impact compared to the Mark Wahlberg show. Even with their jokes as well as the seriousness, it has to be said that this movie goes to none of their top ten list, except for that of Paula Patton. The two cop characters won’t be in any all-time list, and that is one thing we can be pretty much confident about. They shall still stay alive and out of the coffin as long as the fans are concerned.

The movie is violent for sure, and there are lots of blood, along with some of the violence as well as the dialogues, nothing unexpected though. Well, this is one of those movies which you feel longer than what it really is, as the almost-two-hours of action comedy makes you feel like you have been in the theatre a little longer, and that is due to its moments of no fun which exists. But when Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington are together, there is more fun guaranteed, and luckily they stay together most of the time. They are surely not going to make you love this genre though. But not many of the regular movie watchers can avoid these two actors together, a rare combination which has such a huge potential which is only partially fulfilled. Based on a graphic novel series of the same name, the movie strives inside its limited scope, with the big names which it has associated with. This is a movie which you can watch without thinking, expecting or hoping.

By the end of the movie, there are only a few things that you are sure about, and the more sad side of it is that Paula Patton’s character is dead, and in the distant possibility of a sequel, she won’t be there, and the happy side is that there is the scope for sequel, not just because of the ending, but also due to the way in which the movie has progressed and also considering the fact that people in the theatre did seem to love it upto an extent. This entertainment is something which keeps you asking for more, and this “more” if delivered, can happen only in a sequel. The Seventy Three out of One Hundred, which I have provided the movie with, is not the exact rating for everyone, as a slightly lesser rating might make most of the common movie watchers happy, but I am going to stick with this one, being at my subjective side. This is a movie which you can watch prepared to take it as the entertainer starring two big names and a gorgeous leading actress, not to forget the typical villains. Yes, there are a few things reminding us of some of those Quentin Tarantino flicks, for this movie doesn’t belong to one category, not of comedy, action, adventure or thriller completely, but still qualifies as action comedy from a distance.

Release date: 20th September 2013 (India); 2nd August 2013 (United States)
Running time: 110 minutes
Directed by: Baltasar Kormákur
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Denzel Washington, Paula Patton, Bill Paxton, Fred Ward, James Marsden, Edward James Olmos, Allie DeBerry, Robert John Burke

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.