In ‘Equalizer 3,’ Denzel Washington’s Character Takes His Skills to Italy

by Gabriel Martinez
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Equalizer 3

Director Antoine Fuqua has long harbored the ambition of transporting the Equalizer series to an international setting. The action saga, which only nominally draws from a 1980s TV show, features Denzel Washington as Robert McCall, a hesitant hitman whose origins trace back to Boston. After accumulating $382.7 million at the global box office over two installments, the franchise is now ready to go international.

Fuqua spoke with The Big Big News, stating, “Denzel is a global film icon. It felt opportune to feature a person of color in a narrative that has a broader international scope. Fortunately, Sony was enthusiastic about this direction.”

Italy emerged as the indisputable choice for the international backdrop. According to Fuqua, Washington frequents the country each summer and has done so since his children were very young. He is fond of the Italian culture, its populace, and cuisine, and even speaks some of the language.

Fuqua remarked, “He feels completely at home there.”

For the director, the opportunity to film at Rome’s renowned Cinecittà Studios, treading the same grounds as cinema legends like Fellini, was a dream come true. In Naples, they found a 1970s New York-esque ambience that necessitated minimal set design for a crucial confrontation. A small village in Atrani on the Amalfi coast served as the idyllic locale that resonated deeply with both the filmmakers and the character McCall.

The film, set to premiere nationally this Friday, portrays McCall as uniquely equipped to face the Camorra criminal organization, a role he undertakes single-handedly. Fuqua described their time in Atrani, “The locals were extremely gracious. Unprompted, they would bring us coffee and lemon refreshments. The town was incredibly inviting.”

One logistical challenge was the access to a medieval church in Atrani, situated high on a cliff and accessible only by ascending over 700 steps. While this made transporting filming equipment cumbersome, it served as a poignant reminder of the authentic nature of life in such locales.

Fuqua elaborated, “It’s not a tourist attraction. The local fishermen subsist on their daily catch. The simplicity of their lifestyle, climbing those steps day in and day out, is an integral part of their existence.”

The production reunites a veteran team, including producers Todd Black and Jason Blumenthal. Besides the Equalizer series, Fuqua has directed Washington in Oscar-winning “Training Day” and the recent remake of “The Magnificent Seven.”

Black, who has produced all films directed by Washington, expressed that the initial installment of the Equalizer series wasn’t envisioned as a franchise. “You shouldn’t approach filmmaking with awards or franchise aspirations,” he said.

The films have been successful, both garnering over $190 million each against modest budgets. This commercial success, along with the solid rapport between Black and Fuqua, paved the way for a third installment.

Given a protracted strike involving Hollywood actors and writers, Black and Fuqua find themselves in the unenviable position of shouldering the promotional duties. Despite this, Black remains confident about the movie’s prospects, attributing much of this assurance to Fuqua’s deft directorial skills.

“Equalizer 3 is in an excellent position, thanks largely to Antoine’s exceptional filmmaking,” Black stated.

Both Black and Fuqua lament the absence of their star, Washington, from the promotional circuit. Now 68, Washington is more contemplative, according to both producers. Fuqua noted this change in Washington, stating, “It’s heartening to observe him taking the time to truly appreciate life’s moments.”

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Equalizer 3

What is the primary change in the setting for “Equalizer 3” compared to its predecessors?

The significant change is the international setting. While the earlier films in the Equalizer series were set in Boston, “Equalizer 3” takes the franchise to Italy, providing a broader international scope.

Who directed “Equalizer 3” and who stars in it?

Antoine Fuqua directed “Equalizer 3,” and the lead role is played by Denzel Washington, who reprises his role as Robert McCall, a reluctant assassin.

Why was Italy chosen as the setting for “Equalizer 3”?

Italy was selected because Denzel Washington has a personal affinity for the country. He visits Italy every summer and has done so since his children were very young. The director, Antoine Fuqua, also found the Italian locales suitable for the film’s themes and aesthetic.

What were some challenges faced during the filming in Italy?

One particular challenge was filming a scene at a medieval church in Atrani, which was accessible only by climbing over 700 steps. This made the transportation of filming equipment quite cumbersome.

Is “Equalizer 3” expected to be a part of a longer franchise?

Although the initial installment wasn’t envisioned as the start of a franchise, the commercial success of the previous films has led to the creation of “Equalizer 3.” Producers took the series one script at a time and allowed the audience to decide its fate.

How is the film being promoted, given the ongoing Hollywood strike?

Due to the strike involving Hollywood actors and writers, the film’s producers, Todd Black and Jason Blumenthal, along with director Antoine Fuqua, have assumed primary responsibility for promoting “Equalizer 3.”

What unique characteristics does Robert McCall exhibit in “Equalizer 3”?

In this installment, McCall is portrayed as being uniquely suited to face off against the Camorra criminal organization in Italy, which he does single-handedly.

How does the film resonate with the real-life personalities involved?

According to Antoine Fuqua, the film may mirror where Denzel Washington is in his own life, being more contemplative and appreciative of life’s moments. The location also resonated deeply with the filmmakers and the character of McCall.

Are there any award aspirations for “Equalizer 3”?

Producer Todd Black mentions that the focus is not on awards but on making a good movie. Awards or franchise aspirations should not be the driving factor while creating a film.

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