The Equalizer Blu-ray Review
The Equalizer Film Review
Neither brimming with powerhouse performances or grit, Antoine Fuqua’s latest collaboration with Denzel Washington is still a stomping, stylish action-thriller.Formulaic but fun; scrawny but stylish; bloated but brutal, The Equalizer has a little something up its sleeve to counter almost every one of its undeniably prevalent shortcomings. It tells a story done countless times before, but it plays out its Man on Fire meets Taxi Driver plot with kinetic action and gleeful violence, making up for the distinct lack of substance through Washington’s undeniable presence and a commitment to frivolously cool vengeance. Fuqua went full-tilt in the stylish action stakes with his guilty-pleasure Wahlberg vehicle Shooter, and delivered a satisfyingly vicious counterpart to 2012’s other terrorists-take-over-the-Oval-Office actioner, the fun but tame PG-13 White House Down, with his Gerard Butler-starring Olympus Has Fallen, and his Equalizer has far more in common with those two than it does with his other Washington team-up, Training Day.Fuqua brings a few new tricks to the table, although one might argue that they’re old tricks trussed up in new garments. Whilst many have quite naturally assumed this is something of a Man on Fire sequel in all but name, the action beats are less Tony Scott-inspired and more Guy Ritchie derived, actually, with Fuqua giving Washington’s avenger his own slo-mo detect-and-react action-vision. No, it is not original, but it’s undeniably fun to watch, adapting Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes fight sequence dissection to full-on five-on-one close-combat. And if you thought that the trailer gave everything away you’d be mistaken – the trailer is the PG version and, even slightly censored for British audiences, the final cut is still remarkably bloody and satisfyingly brutal, with Washington’s Equalizer exacting the kind of torture-killing that would make The Punisher nod with reluctant approval. Although not fully satisfying in either the action or intrigue department, there’s still plenty here to enjoy.
Blu-ray Picture QualityThe Equalizer's excellent 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation, framed in the film's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.4:1 widescreen, more than lives up to the clinical precision of the titular character. Bathed in the darkness of a nearly-entirely night-set film, the presentation maintains integrity no matter how enshrouded in shadow the image is, and black levels are strong and deep and rich, retaining shadow detail in every darkened corner.
Fuqua sure knows how to makes his movies polished and shiny, and this is no exception.
The colour scheme expands to include some vibrant, vivid tones; neon lights and muzzle flashes, and even the odd explosion igniting the palette, whilst well-lit interiors are often popping with primaries. Skin tones are healthy and realistic, and, as stated, black levels remain strong. Detail is excellent throughout, with some striking clarity, even in sheets of rain. Close-ups and longer shots excel, and the film has a wonderful filmic edge despite being shot digitally, giving it depth and texture which works with the gritty material. Considering how superbly it's handled, this really is a near-flawless demo presentation that earns top marks.
Blu-ray Sound QualityThe soundtrack is just as impressive, which excels in terms of engaging score and engulfing atmospherics.
Dialogue is given prominence across the array where necessary; a mainstay from the fronts and centre channels, and never drowned out by either the score or the effects. Effects are myriad, and remain excellently-observed throughout the proceedings, and irrespective of their scale: large or small, the track excels at promoting both the precision and the punch that the feature has to offer. The exceptional surround usage, track dynamics and LFE oomph are notable, and the whole experience is heightened by a resolutely demo-worthy offering.
Blu-ray ExtrasIn terms of extra material, The Equalizer boasts one of the first In Movie Experience (IME)-style tracks that I've come across in a good while. Vengeance Mode runs throughout, playing as a combo-Commentary-and-Behind-the-Scenes-Featurette offering which is an engaging and fun experience. These appear to have been out of fashion for quite some time now - and may not be all that popular as a result - but their use does not affect the quality of the background material on offer.
Five additional Featurettes expand this production detail, with Inside the Equalizer; Denzel Washington: A Different Kind of Superhero; Equalizer Vision: Antoine Fuqua; Children of the Night; and One Man Army: Training and Fighting running all at around the 6 minute mark, and dipping, respectively, into the TV show-to-movie transition, Denzel's contribution, the Director's style, Chloe Grace Moretz's damsel, and the fight preparation. We also get a funny little tongue-in-cheek DIY store promo, a Photo Gallery and some Previews to complete a fairly comprehensive Extras package.
The Equalizer Blu-ray VerdictThe Equalizer is neither a resoundingly successful TV reboot (Mission: Impossible) nor a dismal failure (The A-Team) but it does strike out as far more promising than worthy of dismissal. Action fans will lap up every second of it – or at least sit patiently through the quieter longer moments to get to them – and those looking for something different will be frustrated that this mostly offers more of the same. It's a shame it, allegedly, remains cut on home release - it certainly looks the same as the pre-censored theatrical cut - but it is nonetheless a pretty brutal actioner.
Washington and Fuqua still deliver the goods, and deserve credit for delivering gut-kicking R-rated thrills in a PG-13-sanitised movie-world.
Certainly, if you're willing to ignore the potential censorship, this is otherwise an exact replica of the corresponding US counterpart, similarly region free, and similarly boasting stunning video and audio and a hefty selection of impressive extra features to boot. There's even a Zavvi-exclusive debossed UK steelbook which looks pretty impressive, and boasts fan-voted artwork on the front and rear. Whatever version you pick, however, it's worth checking out Washington's latest action-thriller; he makes near anything very watchable, and this, whilst somewhat Man on Fire-lite, is still eminently entertaining.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £13.00
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