DATELINE: Recycled TV Shows
As a fan of the original Equalizer with Edward Woodward as Robert McCall, we were braced at the notion of a new version, even with the permission and cooperation of creator Michael Sloan.
The old show was a Reagan Era artifact, one of the unusual pro-CIA programs ever, featuring a laconic Control in the person of Robert Lansing—and a bunch of cowboys that made McCall resign.
Now the chickens have come home to roost. Denzel Washington is hardly the silver-haired man with a newspaper ad. And, the CIA cowboys are now the ones resigning.
In this version, McCall is a man of habit and singular protocols, looking like someone in deep undercover or in witness protection. He works at a lumber company in Boston, and he has a certain number of dangerous skills that he is averse to using, but ultimately understands he must be what he is.
The deadly slow pace, punctuated by sudden bursts of violence, may not be what the average movie viewer wants, but we found it true to the original spirit of McCall. Hemingway metaphors hang in the balance. Imagine an action hero who spends time reading books during the movie.
The final hour of the film turns into a showcase for Robert McCall’s deadly agent. We see less of the vigilante for the downtrodden and more of the knight in shining armor for an age where he is an anachronism.
Whether the film turns into a franchise for Washington’s depiction of McCall is doubtful, despite Denzel’s intriguing performance. The times have changed, and McCall’s sociopathic killings in the name of peace and justice have become about as common as putting out a webpage that asks people if they need help.