Film Review: In ‘Equalizer 3,’ Denzel Washington’s Avenger Confronts the Italian Mafia

by Gabriel Martinez
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Box Office Performance

Despite the ongoing debate about the fading era of movie stars, Denzel Washington continues to cement his presence in the film industry.

Directed by Antoine Fuqua, “Equalizer 3” may not be counted among Washington’s most memorable performances, but it does showcase the actor’s undeniable on-screen charisma. Interestingly, it is not in the film’s adrenaline-charged action scenes where Washington’s magnetism is most palpable, but rather in the quieter moments: whether he is savoring a cup of tea at a café or casually meandering through a Sicilian town. This film derives its allure less from its narrative framework and more from the sheer enjoyment of watching Washington deploy a range of emotions — from smirking to frowning to smiling — interleaved with scenes of violence.

The industry is no stranger to aging stars who, despite their advancing years, display dexterity and cunning in action roles. Figures like Liam Neeson, Harrison Ford, and Tom Cruise frequently populate this genre. Among these, “Equalizer 3” stands out for its visceral intensity.

Surprisingly, neither the film’s fast-paced combat scenes nor its rather cursory suspense serve as its main selling points. Penned by Richard Wenk, the movie opens with a series of lifeless bodies laid out in the main building of a Sicilian vineyard. In the wine cellar, we find Robert McCall (played by Washington), who casually remarks, “They wouldn’t let me in, so…”

The film is a loose adaptation of a 1980s television series featuring a retired intelligence agent who intervenes to level the playing field for ordinary people he meets. The third installment in the series retains a pleasingly episodic narrative structure.

After being shot, McCall is cared for by Enzo, a compassionate village physician portrayed by Remo Girone. The film was largely shot in the captivating medieval fishing village of Atrani along the Amalfi coast in Southern Italy — a location rendered implausibly devoid of tourists. McCall, recuperating and using a cane, appears to be the sole American visitor and quickly earns the villagers’ affections.

Simultaneously, the Camorra mafia escalates its encroachment into the village, seeking to displace the local residents to make way for commercial developments. Oblivious to the unassuming vigilante in their midst, the mafia’s conspicuously attired and tattooed henchmen converge upon the village.

Antoine Fuqua, a veteran in directing both previous “Equalizer” films as well as Washington in “Training Day,” remains in his element. The director captures the locale’s atmosphere while subtly incorporating Christian iconography. The film’s backdrop is further darkened by a menacing new drug sourced from Syria and peddled by the mafia, the proceeds from which finance terrorist cells.

Washington’s cool, calculated dismantling of the criminal organization is satisfying to watch, even as other characters, including intelligence officers portrayed by the likes of Dakota Fanning, merely follow his lead. The movie tacitly acknowledges that Washington is an unparalleled force, and “Equalizer 3” wisely refrains from pretending otherwise. In a world where not everyone is equal, this film is a potent reminder.

“Equalizer 3,” distributed by Sony Pictures, has received an R rating from the Motion Picture Association due to its strong violent content and some language. The film has a runtime of 109 minutes and earns a rating of three out of four stars.

For more updates, follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter:

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Equalizer 3 Review

What is the central theme of the “Equalizer 3” film review?

The central theme of this review revolves around the film’s visceral action and Denzel Washington’s compelling on-screen presence. The review also explores the film’s narrative and its situational backdrop, set primarily in Southern Italy.

Who is the director of “Equalizer 3”?

The film “Equalizer 3” is directed by Antoine Fuqua, who has also helmed the previous movies in the “Equalizer” series.

How does Denzel Washington’s performance contribute to the film?

Denzel Washington’s on-screen magnetism serves as a key selling point for the film. His performance is most captivating in quieter, more understated scenes, rather than in action sequences, underscoring his versatility and charisma.

Where is the film primarily set?

The film is primarily set in Southern Italy, specifically in the medieval fishing village of Atrani along the Amalfi coast.

What is the film rated and how long is it?

“Equalizer 3” is rated R by the Motion Picture Association for its strong violent content and some language. The film has a runtime of 109 minutes.

Who else stars in the movie?

In addition to Denzel Washington, the film features actors such as Remo Girone and Dakota Fanning in significant roles.

What are the weaknesses of the film, according to the review?

According to the review, the film’s weaknesses include its lack of truly suspenseful moments and the fast-paced yet grotesque fight sequences, which are not considered its main selling points.

What is the underlying conflict in the film?

The underlying conflict in “Equalizer 3” involves the Camorra mafia’s attempt to infiltrate a quiet Italian village for commercial development, and Robert McCall’s (Denzel Washington) efforts to thwart these plans.

Is the film an original story or an adaptation?

The film is a loose adaptation of a 1980s television series that features a retired intelligence agent intervening to bring justice for ordinary people he encounters.

How does the review rate the film?

The review rates “Equalizer 3” as three out of four stars, indicating that it is a good but not exceptional entry in the genre.

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1 comment

Mike_D August 31, 2023 - 9:49 am

Wow, this review really nails it. Denzel is the


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