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Plot Details: This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Russian Nights

The Equalizer

Plot Overview

“Beep, beep,” the alarm goes off; it's 7:30 am, time for some­body to get up. The camera pulls back to show an empty bed­room then passes a full book­case as it pans a spartan house to land on a man shaving his head. He whips up an energy drink in the blender, brushes the felt on his sports shoes with a tooth­brush, checks his grooming in the mirror, then heads out the door.

After a commute by bus, he begins his job in a consumer ware­house, Home Mart, where one of his fellow employees remarks, “You didn't have to push no dollies at your old job, did you?” After a pause he replies with­out elaboration, “Guilty as charged.”

Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) has ex-military written all over him. He is too well organized to be a civilian. He helps his Hispanic fellow employee Ralphie (Johnny Skourtis) prepare for his security job test coming up in a week.

After riding the Maverick Sta Bus home, he has dinner by himself at 6:30 and does the dishes. At 1:30 am this early riser is still up reading in bed. He gets up, fishes out a tea bag, and heads for Bridge Diner, every­day food 24/7. There he resumes reading over his tea, The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Heming­way. A female voice from off camera asks him, “He catch that fish yet?” It's the other regular Teri—“My real name is Alina”—(Chloë Grace Moretz) all dolled up like a tart. Soon she's called off to work, but their con­ver­sation will continue on suc­ceeding nights.

By this means we learn a little about Robert. He's not by disposition a reader, but his wife had been reading the world's greatest 100 books, so he started, too, to have some­thing to discuss with her. She died on the 97th, and he is up to number 91, still a little sad at her passing. He'd promised her to be a different kind of man, so he quit his old job—what­ever that was—and is now an ordinary Joe.

He's encouraging Teri to find a better line, maybe music that she seems to be talented in. “Got to be who you are in this world, no matter what,” he tells her. That could apply to him­self as well. Seems he's doing some maverick moon­lighting. When Ralphie's mom's shop got torched, he found the crooked cops who were shaking her down and threatened to spill the beans on them with a video he made unless they backed off. When the Home Mart gets robbed, he sees to it that the personal item is returned to the checker girl, and he returns the sledge­hammer he borrowed after wiping off its head. Just being a good citizen, I suppose.

Then Teri's (Russian) pimp Slavi (David Meunier) starts playing rough. He calls her a bliatz (the Russian b-word), hits her, and to make an example of her, he “beat her up real good.” She's in the ICU at the hospital. Robert makes a with­drawal from the bank, and enters the hoodlums' lair to try to buy her from them, but he doesn't have enough money. They send him packing and he meekly walks to the door, with them smirking behind his back.

What happens next puts me in mind of the classic Country song “Coward of the County,” written by Roger Bowling and Billy Ed Wheeler, recorded by Kenny Rogers. In it a boy Tommy had promised his dad before his death that he wouldn't try to prove his man­hood through fighting. And he lived up to that promise. Then one day the Gatlin boys took turns on his girl Becky and left her crying. Tommy found them in a bar­room, and when he turned back and walked to the door, one of them said, “Hey look! old yeller's leaving.” The song goes on to say, “But you could've heard a pin drop when Tommy stopped and locked the door.”

Ideology

The way the organized crime scene works here in Boston is this: The crooked cops, or the Albanians, or the Italians, or who­ever—each according to his predetermined terri­tory—sells "protection" to legit businesses, so their places don't get torched or what­ever. These smaller gangs each for a percentage of their take, buys protection from the Russian mafiya. According to reporter Gerald Seymour in his book Time­bomb, New York: The Over­look Press, 2012, p. 222, “it's pretty well known that Russian organized crime gets about as vicious as any—unless it's the Albanians on a red-letter day.” The Russians use the word for roof, krysha, to describe some­thing that protects a person from unwanted out­side influences. The local Russians are the roof of the other gangs that are the roofs of the businesses they "protect." The Ruskies them­selves will have a roof, a krysha, back in the old country that will protect them, here by sending their enforcer ex-Spetsnaz Teddy—real name Nicolai—(Marton Csokas) who is one mean dude. Robert will need to get permission from his old agency even to fight this level. Should he defeat him, and then go to Moscow in an attempt to behead the snake, he will find one Vladimir Pushkin (Vladimir Kulich) living in a guarded palace. On his ceiling is a fresco of angels and saints. He is too big to fail. To assassinate him is to start World War III, and the angles won't permit it. How­ever, any­body can have an accident with faulty wiring, as happened to Ralphie's mom. It's the lesson of the old man Santiago in the book Robert's reading: the fish was too big to fit in his boat, for him to ever claim credit for, but then the sea eats them all, large and small. Robert might not know all the details as he sizes up his opposition in the room, but from their tats he can see he'd be up against more than any sane man should attempt to confront, even should he neutralize the five armed men in the room there, no mean feat. That's why he walked to the door.

The reason why he stopped and locked it is different and has to do with (Prov. 30:33), “Surely the churning of milk bringeth forth butter, and the wringing of the nose bringeth forth blood: so the forcing of wrath bringeth forth strife.” You take liquid milk and churn it and you get solid butter. You wring a guy's solid nose, and out comes liquid blood. You'll change a stable state of peace to a fluid state of war if you make a guy mad enough, press his hot buttons.

“The Equalizer” uses similar images to suggest this proverb. Solid fruit is turned into a smoothie by a blender. A dry tea bag is infused into hot water to make tea. The man who shaves his head checks the mirror to see that he hasn't nicked him­self causing bleeding. After he's used a sledge­hammer to administer a love tap to a thief, he wipes any blood off its head. Robert repeatedly reams Slavi's driver Tevi (Alex Veadov) with a cork­screw, then he sticks it under his chin and finishes him off with it. Lots of blood there. And he goes back to Slavi, the last man breathing, and shares with him how he is drowning in his own blood from the bullet hole in his throat. Eventually after confronting the muscle sent to get him, he'll cauterize a slash wound on his leg to stop the bleeding. And Ralphie the new security guard will be tracked by Teddy in the dark ware­house from the blood trail he leaves from his wounded leg. Blood is not a mere special effect in this movie but is part of its show-and-tell, although it's gradually built up to so the squeamish can flee the theater before it gets too bad.

What got Robert so mad was Slavi's brazen escalation of his bad treatment of the girls, of Teri. After having put her in hospital, his next threatened punishment would be to cut out her vocal chords figuring she'd be worth more money servicing the customers with­out being able to speak. But Robert liked her singing voice and was encouraging her in it. Further­more, his not having a wife to discuss the literature with any­more, her place was some­how taken by Teri. To suddenly lose her sweet companion­ship, as well, was too much for him to tolerate. So despite the impreg­nability of the gang and his promise to his wife to behave, he went after them with a vengeance.

Production Values

“The Equalizer” (2014) was directed by Antoine Fuqua. It was written by Richard Wenk as a take­off on Michael Sloan and Richard Lindheim's 1980s tele­vision series The Equalizer. It stars Denzel Washington, Marton Csokas, and Chloë Grace Moretz. The acting was all good. Closeups of Washington were managed well by his practiced demeanor, and Moretz was cute in hers. A cool device was used of the camera coming in on Robert's eyeball as he scopes out a scene as a prelude to action, and we get a view of it from his eye. A minimal back­ground music enhanced the tension in places. It's rated R for strong bloody violence and language throughout, including some sexual references. The pseudo-wrap music during the end credits didn't appeal to me, but then one could leave during it. The American flag was displayed in appropriate places.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

I thought “The Equalizer” was a cut above the ordinary action flick that I was expecting. It balanced fast action scenes, and implied action scenes, and prolonged action scenes, so we didn't get too complacent. It gave us a back story with sparse detail, so the characters seemed real flesh and blood. As for the blood, yes, there was plenty of it, but it seemed to be illustrating a bloody proverb, so what does one expect? There were strong under­currents of a message to live up to one's potential and to make use of his talents. A great movie!

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Edge of your seat action-packed. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Absolutely amazing special effects. Video Occasion: Fit For a Friday Evening. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall product rating: Five stars out of five.