Review: The Equalizer (2014)

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the equalizer poster

“Got to be who you are in this world, no matter what.”
– Robert McCall

SYNOPSIS: A man believes he has put his mysterious past behind him and has dedicated himself to beginning a new, quiet life. But when he meets a young girl under the control of ultra-violent Russian gangsters, he can’t stand idly by – he has to help her. – via IMDB

the equalizer gif

I missed this in cinemas when it came out (blame the exams, always the exams)and could not wait to see it. I loved it when I finally did watch it, and decided recently it needed a rewatch before I could go on to the new onw. Gathering my other half the other night, we sat down and got ready to watch the excellent Denzel tear up the town again. Let me just tell you, we were not disappointed, not even for one moment.

The Equalizer is paced fantastically – I liked that it concentrated on some story, and didn’t just get lost in action, but didn’t focus so much on the story that it was purely a drama. Also, let’s not forget Washington’s portrayal as Robert McCall. I was so impressed with him (I usually am) and I thought that he was super badass. He was very cool, well-respected, I liked the way he was so important to so many people and yet when he went home it was solitary, lonely and depressing.

That changes when McCall becomes a scary machine and starts fixing Boston, intense I tell you! There were some kill styles introduced that I have to admit were fresh and original (I know how that sounds), and an antagonist opposite McCall that was worthy of his time, escalating the events (though there could have been a more hardcore showdown). There was nothing left untouched by McCall to craft his weapons with, and that alone was entertaining enough to carry so much. The soundtrack fit with the movie perfectly, and The Equalizer was shot very nicely, too.

There was not one moment of boredom for me, and I was taken in with the entire presentation of the film. Great job all round, and I can definitely highly recommend this one. It has more substance than your average movie of this type, and though it follows a recipe, it doesn’t get boring.

Review: Flight (2012)

10

FLIGHT POSTER

“Hey, don’t tell me how to lie about my drinking, okay? I know how to lie about my drinking. I’ve been lying about my drinking my whole life.”
– Whip Whitaker

FLIGHT 2012 PLANE CRASH

“Death demands responsibility.” – Hugh Lang

Airline captain William “Whip” Whitaker (Denzel Washington) pilots a flight to Atlanta after a hard night of sex, drugs and alcohol with his fellow flight attendant Katerina Márquez (Nadine Velazquez). Coked up to be ready for the flight, it starts as any other day would, though the turbulence is bad and his co-pilot, Ken Evans (Brian Geraghty), wonders if Whip is alright. Whip consumes some vodka discreetly on the flight, and takes a nap. This is where his life is irrevocably changed. Ken Evans attempts to gear up for a landing, and the plane goes into a ridiculously scary dive. Whip is instantly awake, and even in his state takes over. After a nasty scare with the engines failing and the inability to get the plane righted, Whip makes the call to make a forced landing in a field, with some terrible consequences. He is dragged from the wreckage of the plane.

Waking in the hospital, he learns that of the one hundred and two passengers on board, six died; of which two of them were flight crew. His union rep and old friend Charlie Anderson (Bruce Greenwood) is there to greet him. The National Transportation Safety Board has to undergo an investigation as to what went down on the plane that morning, and an NTSB official tells Whip that Katerina was among those who lost their lives in the unfortunate accident. Whipe calls in his drug dealer friend Harling Mays (John Goodman) to get him some cigarettes and get him some cash from his home for when he leaves the hospital. While under observation at the hospital, Whip meets with drug addict Nicole Maggen (Kelly Reilly) who is recovering from a heavy overdose. He instantly takes a liking to her and wishes to see her again.

FLIGHT 2012 MEDIA

The press are relentless when you are either a hero or a scapegoat

Leaving the hospital and taking cover, avoiding his own home, Whip goes back to the family farm, and the first thing he does is get rid of all the pills and all the liquor in the house. Naturally, it does not last long after he goes to meet with Charlie and his lawyer, Hugh Lang (Don Cheadle), where he learns that a toxicology screen was performed on him at the hospital by the NTSB and they know about the drinking and the drugs. Angered, Whip leaves them and gets knackered, and he then moves on to visit Nicole, where he finds her moving out from her apartment, and takes her in to stay with him. The two begin a haphazard romance, which gets dark quickly when Nicole is intent on cleaning herself up while Whip will not even admit that he has a problem, though it has already cost him his now-ex-wife and teenage son. He needs to start getting ready for the NTSB hearing, where Ellen Block (Melissa Leo), the lead investigator, seems to have it out to prove his incompetence the day of the flight. Everyone is trying their damndest to get him ready and help him out, but he is not interested.

FLIGHT

“Nobody could’ve landed that plane like I did.” – Whip Whitaker

Will this NTSB investigation bring Whip to his knees? Will they pin the entire accident on his hindered abilities, or rule that it was a mechanical fault that led to the terrible crash? Will Whip ever admit he has a problem, and what will it cost him to figure out there is an issue?

Flight earns a 7/10. It was a good movie, well put together and was compelling to watch. This was definitely an outstanding role for Denzel Washington; you get so attached and involved in the life of Whip, and you feel for him. It is more pity than anything, because he is a product of his own circumstances, ones that he created purely on his own. His battle is a difficult one to watch, and you are permanently in his corner waiting for him to admit to his shortcomings. Denzel Washington truly impressed me with this role, and again demonstrated why he is such a great actor. Don Cheadle was great as Whip’s attorney, and he gave me a few of the laughs that I experienced in the movie. I must say that there were a few times where the script followed a simple and predictable recipe, but overall not that bad. The soundtrack for this film was also very remarkable, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Review: American Gangster (2007)

10

American Gangster Poster

“This is my home. My country. Frank Lucas don’t run from nobody. This is America.”
– Frank Lucas

Harlem gangster Ellsworth “Bumpy” Johnson (Clarence Williams III) dies of a heart attack, leaving his new right hand man, Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington), in a precarious position. He is not impressed with the gangsters that are trying to take over after Bumpy’s demise, and is battling to figure out how he is to regain control over all that is going down. Eventually he has the idea to buy heroin directly from the suppliers in Thailand, product that is virtually one hundred percent pure and sells it at half the price of the competitors. He has the drugs smuggled in by military planes and the assistance of military personnel. This leads to him becoming vastly rich in an incredibly short period of time and gaining the monopoly over Harlem.

AMERICAN GANGSTER SHOOT

“Twenty percent.”- Frank

Detective Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe) and his partner Detective Javier Rivera  (John Ortiz) are in the dog box when they perform a bust and turn almost a million dollars in to evidence. Honesty has them reviled and they are on the end of the wrong stick. Richie is already in the middle of a messy divorce as well as attempting to put himself through night school. His partner gets hooked on drugs and Richie gets pulled in to try and cover it up. Rivera dies and Richie discovers “Blue Magic” heroin on him, and starts to ask questions. Richie gets asked to head up a drug trafficking task force by Captain Lou Toback (Ted Levin) to work specifically on taking down actual suppliers as opposed to the middle-men.

AMERICAN GANGSTER DRUG SQUAD

“Frank Lucas is the most dangerous man walking the streets of our city.” – Richie

Lucas is making a fortune off of his blue magic and soon moves his entire family up to stay with him, makes his five brothers his lieutenants, buys nightclubs to control other seedy industries and is doing well for himself. At one of his clubs he meets his future wife, Eva (Lymari Nadal), a luscious Puerto Rican beauty queen. Lucas rapidly becomes one of the biggest gangsters and dealers that Harlem has ever seen. Aside from being ruthless, Lucas is smart and low-key, thinking that it is unnecessary to draw more attention to himself than is necessary. However, one night out at the fights in a garish outfit that his wife chose for him makes him stick out to Richie, who wonders how he is better seated than the Italian Mafia. Richie decides to investigate him.

AMERICAN GANGSTER LEIUTENANT BROTHERS

“The most important thing in business is honesty, integrity, hard work… family… never forgetting where we came from.” – Frank

Lucas is dealing with his own problems dealing with encroaching rivals such as Lucchese mafia and local crime lords as well as corrupt cops such as Nick Trupo (Josh Brolin). Lucas needs to protect his empire, though this becomes tricky with the Fall of Saigon – his supplier has been lost. Lucas is looking for alternate ways to make things work while retain his authority, while at the same time Richie Roberts is hot at his heels and relentless. Will Richie be able to bust the notorious gangster? Will Lucas be able to maintain his hold over Harlem?

I score American Gangster an 8/10. This film was really excellent, and I enjoyed all of it. I know that it was loosely based on the actual historical events, but it was entertaining nonetheless. I watched an extended edition, and each and every second was well worth it. The cast was great, everyone bringing their everything to the table. I thought that the story was incredibly well executed, and the costume designer also needs congratulations, everything looked authentic for the time. I found Frank to be enigmatic, ruthless, cruel and a stand up man all at once, which could leave one rather confused at the best of times. Denzel Washington gave Frank life on screen and again reminded me why I have such respect for him as an actor. Russell Crowe also delivered another good performance. The way the film progressed was fluid, too, which is nice, no parts where you are wondering how the hell you landed up there.  I must admit I laughed so much when Richie threw that subpoena/warrant through the door then had it broken down with a sledgehammer. Well done! The dialogue was also lovely to listen to, and the story that was told was incredibly good, and interesting all the way through almost three hours of movie time. I would highly recommend this film if you have not seen it, it just works.