Film: The Equalizer

Robert McCall: I promised I wouldn't go back to being that person. But for you, I'm going to make an exception.

The Equalizer is a 2014 film directed by Antoine Fuqua and starring Denzel Washington. It is a remake of the 1980s show starring Edward Woodward in the titular role.


This film provides examples of:

  • And the Adventure Continues: The end of the movie has Robert sitting in his usual place at the diner, but this time he's on his laptop, having decided to offer his skills to those who are in need of help.
  • Badass Bookworm: Robert is seen working his way through the "Top 100 Books You Must Read" list.
  • Battle in the Rain: Although more like "death in the rain", it starts raining sprinklers inside the Home Mart due to the explosives in the microwaves finishing off the last mook when McCall kills Teddy in the climax of the final battle.
  • Big Bad: Vladimir Pushkin, who actually spends most of the movie as a Bigger Bad, while his chief enforcer Teddy has a lot more screen time, making Teddy a Dragon-in-Chief. Pushkin doesn't make a full appearance until the epilogue.
  • Bland-Name Product: "Home Mart", which is supposed to resemble real-life hardware stores like Lowe's or Home Depot (seeing that these scenes were filmed in a latter)
  • Bloodier and Gorier/Darker and Edgier: So very much so compared to the original series it's based on.
    • To wit: a typical plot in the CBS series has McCall pulling an elaborate mindgame with his associates helping him, one that usually forces the guilty party to incriminate themselves and sometimes leaves them at the mercy of those they've wronged. In the movie, McCall simply takes out everyone in his path personally, using such delightful tactics as a shotglass to the eye socket, corkscrew to the jaw, a barb wire noose, a tree trimmer through the neck, and gunning someone down with a high-powered nailgun.
  • Boss in Mook Clothing: The only person to give Robert any sort of trouble in a fight is one random guy toward the end, and this mostly comes from tanking Roberts hits.
  • Brick Joke: When McCall is helping Ralphie lose weight, he tells him that one day he might have to drag his 190-lb ass out of a burning building. Later, when McCall is wounded after an intense brawl, Ralphie comes back to help drag him to safety.
    Ralphie: A buck ninety my ass.
  • Broken Ace: Yes, McCall is a Jack-of-All-Trades but when it comes down to it, he is harboring a lot of internal problems including what appears to be OCD.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Masters is particularly fond of these, almost to the point of it being the only curse word he uses.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Robert easily dispatches five Russian mobsters early in the film, in 19 seconds. (He was aiming for 16 seconds.)
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Boiled down, McCall wipes out the Russian mob in retaliation for... one of their own escorts being beat into the hospital.
  • The Dragon: Teddy for Pushkin.
  • Evil Counterpart: Nikolai to Robert. Both are Dangerously Genre Savvy and very, very good at killing people. The difference is that Nikolai is The Sociopath, while McCall is motivated by caring about the people around him.
  • Eye Scream: This is how Robert kills the first Mook in the whole movie (and we get to see the aftermath in some autopsy photos later on)
  • Faking the Dead: Robert retired from his previous career by pretending to have been killed in a car bomb.
  • Faux Affably Evil: The Russian mobsters tend to act like friendly faces, including Teddy.
  • For Want of a Nail: If the Russian mob pimp hadn't beat the call girl, or at least accepted McCall's money, nobody would have died. Basically if McCall is offering you a deal, you take it and run the hell away.
  • Good Is Not Soft: Robert tends to offer a Last-Second Chance, resorting to violence only after this is refused.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Pops up a couple of times, like McCall using a small hammer against a Home Mart robber or whatever he did to Teddy's bodyguard, but we don't get to see the moment Robert turns on the hand drill at the Home Mart, just the expected result.
  • Improbable Weapon User: McCall finds innovate uses for a wine corkscrew, among other things.
  • Improvised Weapon: Robert's preference, especially in the last act when he uses the contents of the Home Mart he works at.
  • Invincible Knuckles: Averted. McCall cuts and bruises his knuckles while taking out the pimps, and Teddy is seen picking glass out of his knuckles after beating an Irish mobster to death.
  • The Mafiya: The primary villains.
  • Mook Horror Show: The last big action sequence in the film features Robert stalking Nikolai's men through the Home Mart where he works after they've taken his co-workers hostage, and dispatching them one by one in various gruesome ways.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Masters has a serious Heel Realization when he realizes that he has gone from good (or at least well-meaning) cop to a common thug.
  • Nice Guy: McCall is well liked by his fellow colleagues at Home Mart.
  • Noodle Incident: After the burglar takes the till and then the cashier's grandmother's ring, Robert tells her not to resist, since it's not worth losing her life over it. Later, after giving the police the information he has, Robert calmly takes a sledgehammer from the shelf and leaves. Later, the woman finds the ring in her cash drawer, as Robert is calmly cleaning the hammer before returning it to the shelf. You fill in the rest.
  • Product Placement:
    • The film is produced by Sony (through Columbia Pictures), and isn't keen on letting you forget that fact.
    • McCall is clearly using Craigslist] at the end of the film, while setting up his Vigilante Man occupation.
  • Race Lift: Robert McCall was portrayed by white British actor Edward Woodward in the original series, and black American actor Denzel Washington in the film.
  • Retired Badass: Robert McCall. The movie is about him coming out of retirement.
  • Sherlock Scan: Used by McCall in a weaponized format, similarly to Robert Downey, Jr.'s Sherlock Holmes movies.
  • Spiritual Successor: A badass played by Denzel Washington? Check. A young girl? Check. Villains attack said girl only to invite the wrath of Washington's character? YOU BETTER BELIEVE IT! Hell, they might as well rename Robert McCall to John W. Creasy.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: We are treated to a glorious slow-mo shot of Robert blowing up the entire harbor and all the petrol tankers in it. Later invoked to point out why you should never put butane gas tanks in the microwave.
  • Super OCD: It's not explicit, but McCall shows traits of OCD here and there. The most extreme example of this being his self-timed beatdowns of the enemy.
  • Vigilante Man: McCall is basically doing this throughout the entire movie, only to...
  • We Help the Helpless: At the end of the movie, Robert has apparently decided to make a habit of this as he's seen responding to an online forum post asking for his help.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: After Masters has his Heel Realization, McCall tells him it is not too late turn his life around.