The Equalizer 3 (2023) Movie Review: A Screenplay Committed to Stylish Violence but Not Self-reflecfion

The Equalizer 3 2023

“The Equalizer 3 serves as the conclusion to a trilogy that perhaps didn’t necessitate closure. Nevertheless, The Equalizer as a series was never in dire need of further expansion. I found myself in a cinema, among a handful of others, at an 11:20 PM screening of The Equalizer 3, eagerly anticipating the opportunity to watch one of my favorite actors grace the big screen. Every choice that led me to that moment was justified, for when Denzel Washington graces a frame, he commands my full attention. His presence outshines all others. To honor Denzel’s dominant on-screen aura, The Equalizer 3 kicks off with an exceptional opening scene, setting the stage with an unsettling atmosphere in the wake of Robert McCall’s arrival.”

Robert consistently leaves behind a series of casualties as though he’s embarked on a personal mission. His presence becomes something to expect. When he eventually faces his circumstantial adversary, he offers them a selection of choices, urging them to make the morally correct decision. However, the defining characteristic of his confrontations is the pressing nature of time. The circumstantial foe is forced to make the “less harmful” choice within mere seconds. These recurring patterns are intentionally crafted to create several familiar themes linked to The Equalizer. Over the course of three films, Robert’s character has developed a unique and unmistakable identity of its own.

The Equalizer 3:Robert McCall’s Character analysis

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Robert McCall stands out among a myriad of assassin, secret agent, and hitman characters in the realm of fiction. His reputation is primarily founded on his unwavering moral compass and formidable combat skills. Although an aura of mystery shrouds the character, it lacks substantial depth. McCall remains an enigmatic figure, keeping his true identity concealed from the audience, leaving them perpetually questioning.

The chinks in his ethical code are conspicuous, as his altruism often leads to short-sighted outcomes. While he bestows life-altering happiness upon many individuals, his actions fail to instigate systemic change. The joy and tranquility he brings come at the price of increased vulnerability for the very people he strives to protect under the veil of anonymity. This critique applies not only to a single film but extends to his character across all cinematic renditions.

Nonetheless, there is a fleeting moment in which Robert’s character exhibits introspection regarding his return to a life defined by violence. While regret may not be prominently displayed, an overwhelming sense of exhaustion permeates his every action. A profound yearning for peace drives his motivations. When faced with a child’s misguided attempt on his life, driven by fear and anger, Robert exhibits remarkable restraint, followed by an attempt on his own life. This juncture could have been profoundly poignant, offering a glimpse into his capacity for self-reflection. However, to our dismay, this moment is intentionally truncated.

The film proceeds with a weakened Robert, having narrowly escaped death, finding himself in an unfamiliar locale surrounded by compassionate individuals.

Film Analysis:Lost Originality

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THE EQUALIZER 3, Denzel Washington, 2023. ph: Stefano Montesi / © Sony Pictures Entertainment / courtesy Everett Collection

“From this point onward, the film begins to lose its originality. While it’s expected that Robert will assume the role of a vigilante-savior due to the circumstances, and this familiarity can be thrilling, there’s little else in the screenplay to appreciate. The townspeople are portrayed as simple, honest individuals leading peaceful lives, now threatened by an evil antagonist with plans to demolish the town and replace it with casinos, resorts, and hotels (the antagonist explicitly expresses this).

The storyline appears to draw inspiration from classic Asian films where the hero emerges as the savior of the needy and downtrodden. At times, it seems as if Antoine Fuqua wants the audience to consider the aspirations of mafia-like figures in a first-world country as akin to proto-capitalists, echoing the ambitions of criminal organizations in developing nations recovering from colonialism’s aftermath. The filmmakers aim to convince us that the civilian population in a first-world country lacks institutional protection against someone armed with just a few guns financed by drug money, to the extent that the mighty United States must intervene.

However, Robert himself doesn’t symbolize the entire USA. His involvement isn’t a metaphor for the USA’s role as a global savior. Instead, it’s a piece in the larger machinery that legitimizes the nation’s often destructive and, at times, genocidal actions through propaganda. Robert reports to the CIA, an agency dedicated to dismantling terrorist networks, preventing economic destabilization, and uncovering criminal operations and illicit resource channels. The CIA operates for the greater good, working as a benevolent force that purges the impurities in other nations, allowing their citizens to live in peace.”

My concern doesn’t lie in the visual violence depicted in The Equalizer 3 and its predecessors, nor does it revolve around its simplistic screenplay. Rather, my issue pertains to the self-centered and uninformed narratives found in such films, which perpetuate a distorted portrayal of the United States. Some might argue that I’m reading too much into it, but often, it’s the straightforward storylines that subtly distort complex truths about our world.

Throughout its history, Hollywood has frequently produced conservative action films that adhere to the established norms. In the early days of action-packed Westerns, these movies often cast minorities as antagonists, portraying them as obstacles to the expansion of white settlers, who were transforming supposedly “barren” lands into a nation. In later years, characterized by technological advancements, secret agencies often assumed the role of heroes, portrayed as saviors dealing with uncooperative states (some of which the USA had destabilized in reality). In essence, mainstream American action cinema has frequently served as a tool for propaganda. Their innovation typically revolves around the presentation and choreography of action sequences, captivating our senses but failing to enlighten our intellects.

Forgettable review of Equalizer 3(2023)

Hence, one can deduce that The Equalizer 3 succeeds in delivering some sensory satisfaction. However, it falls short of making a lasting impression, with its impact fading once the cinema experience concludes. Gratefully, the film benefits greatly from Denzel Washington’s portrayal of the protagonist, which adds a considerable charm. I would suggest watching this movie primarily for those who enjoy Denzel’s action-packed performances. However, if you’re not inclined towards violent content, The Equalizer 3 may leave your senses underwhelmed.

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