The movie this week is…The Equalizer

No, not this one.

We are very pleased to now have a two screen theater here in Morris — it means that first-run movies don’t clog up the sole screen for weeks and weeks, so we’ll get a more regular roll-over of movies. Most importantly, it means that that horrible Mission Impossible crap has already been shunted off to the mini-theater, and we get a brand new shiny horrible piece of crap already.

This week, we get The Equalizer 2. I have fond memories of the old TV series from the late 1980s, in which Robert McCall, played by Edward Woodward with a bit of class, would take on the problems that the police wouldn’t — and there’d be some twisty little plot where he’d use his vast sums of money, his network of talented characters, his mysterious background as a spy, and a clever scheme to cunningly give the bad guys their comeuppance. My wife was particularly fond of the show, probably because the protagonist was a handsome distinguished older gentleman with a nice English accent.

This movie is a little different.

In this one, Robert McCall, played by Denzel Washington, uses his mysterious background as a spy to track down the bad guys and brutally, bloodily murder them to death with his bare hands, or sometimes a wicked little knife. The movie opens with an irrelevant side plot in Turkey, in which McCall slaughters four big bruisers in a train car, and then we go off to Belgium, where a woman is being murdered in front of her husband, and then her husband’s brains getting blown out, and it kind of takes off from there — bones are broken, faces are punched, women are brutalized (but they fight back ferociously…I don’t think that makes it OK), bombs go off, a guy gets shot in the face with a harpoon gun, another guy gets his guts blown out with a cleverly made bomb in a bakery, one more guy gets slashed multiple times and bleeds to death slowly, and another one gets a similar slashing, but he gets off easy because he then falls from a great height and goes splat on some rocks. Lots of blood. Lots of nasty sound effects. Not quite what I expected. The talented Melissa Leo is totally wasted in her role, but I was surprised to see the ancient Orson Bean is still alive and played a significant part in the movie. He wasn’t any good at it, but it was impressive that someone who was in TV and the movies in the 1950s is still kicking.

Fortunately, I’d invited my wife to join me, but she begged off because she had better things to do. I don’t think she would have liked it at all.

Oh, hey, I think I had better things to do, too. I don’t know what, but just about anything would do. I could have eaten spiders for two hours, I’d probably feel less queasy.


  1. Ichthyic says

    yup, evidently it’s all about revenge porn now, and everything has devolved to the level of a bad comic book.

    I like Denzel, really, but all I could think of when watching the first “Equalizer” he starred in was that it was deliberately catering to the revenge porn market.

    there was nothing clever about the way he approached things, in fact, the only time he met up with his former peers, was in the words of the person he went there to meet: “To get permission”. Also? it was quite clear he had made a mistake in how he dealt with the first group to begin with, because it just escalated and put everyone at risk. Nothing smart, just revenge porn.

  2. markgisleson says

    I too had fond memories of the TV show. Then I downloaded a couple of the more acclaimed ones to watch again.

    The show was incredibly violent and sadistic. I don’t think the new movies really altered the plots as much as you might think. The standard plot involved a truly sickening act of violence. Hostages were common. I don’t think there was a single episode in which at least one woman didn’t scream.

    All I can figure out is that the early ’80s were a period of peak desensitivity to violence. We were still working out the ghosts of Vietnam and record violent crime. If you can track down an episode of the tv show, I think you might be surprised. I was.

  3. Akira MacKenzie says

    I had the pleasure of meeting Peter Woodward, Edward’s son, at a SF convention in St. Louis back in 2000. This was after his brief stint as the Galen, the Technomage from the short-lived B5 spin-off Crusade. Last time I saw him was just this year on the Netflix adaptation of “Altered Carbon” where he played the host at Head In The Clouds.

  4. wzrd1 says

    @Ichthyic, perhaps that was the entire point?
    Gone horrifically off the wire?*

    As for blood soaked, not for the usual civilian. Military and civilian EMS are accustomed to it, some military personnel get greeted with it, totally un-fun, but goes with the job. While unpleasant at times, even highly distressing, I far preferred, having been occupied in all sides of that equation, to prefer the military or civilian EMS side. At least then, someone was being helped.
    And I only lost one patient over nearly 28 years and that one, actually was like the others lost, dead before I arrived. The singular loss was one with a ruptured aortic aneurysm, secondary to pheochromocytoma. Doctor was astonished that I knew the cause, based upon the hint of “highly elevated adrenaline level”.**

    As for entertainment, I far prefer unrealistic, far out things that lack gore. I served in doing what we did to keep John Q Public from having to personally experience it, I don’t really want to remember it.
    Or a silly comedy or better, a cerebral comedy, which is vanishingly rare today. Possibly, extinct in the wild.

    *A military term, originally, referring to older military wire guided missiles and when the wire broke, the missile went entirely random. Newer models either fly straight or nose dive or otherwise destruct.
    But, from memory, I do recall he had SF training in the retcon version of the movie franchise and the TV series was indeed revenge porn, done with a classy British accent and mythical spy tech at times. Knowing real people in that occupation and quite loathing them, the networking is very real, even after retirement. The working together as a vigilante network, not at all. They’re dirtier than even that could allow for.

    **Right after my Pershing II missiles thankfully went the way of the dinosaurs, before even being ever actually deployed in any numbers, a treaty eliminated them and I got the talk of, “Hey, you’re serious, extremely good at tactical shit and a great fit with these guys. Became an 18D.
    Now, 68W518D before reclassifying to a different MOS, due to cumulative injuries. And subsequently, the 5 replaced by a Z, but all with alphabet soup of qualifiers on nuclear, chemical, biological, pull my finger, pull my lanyard, pull your own damned finger.
    Yeah, they got nearly as silly as I try to be. Which, overall, is about as silly as Hawkeye Pierce in MASH.
    When I get serious, it is serious. Listen to instructions, we’ll get clear and take far more many than you though possible out with us.

    Well, off to the land of nod. Gotta get up for work in 6 hours.
    And deal with various and sundry DoD employees… And security validation process errors, subnet misassignments, site X cannot be reached (we blocked it due to it being compromised and no, we’re not allowed to tell you about it, that’s US CERT’s JOB) and assorted other nuisances and manage for once, to schedule in time enough to call to schedule a certification test that I’ve entirely not trained for, but will pass, as it’s required and it’s stupid enough to not have to bother studying for. Windows 10, technical and seriously, I’m the guy that does Active Directory Policy in his head (that’s rather simple regex now, previously, simple boolean).
    With the complication of usually walking like a healthy 30 year old speed walker, when the barometric pressure changes, that suddenly halts into varying velocity and interrupt vectors of motion that is typically associated with advanced geriatrics.

    Yeah, real life is complicated.
    But, maybe now, we have some mutually approachable context we all can properly address to increase mutual understanding.

  5. kudayta says

    I have honestly never heard of these movies or the TV show. I’m 41 years old. I really need to get out more.

  6. F.O. says

    They even managed to make a Star Trek movie or two that were all about shooting and explosions.

  7. zenlike says

    Speaking of having fond memories of old TV shows on which new movies are based, and also about Mission Impossible: I actually have fond memories of watching (reruns of) the Mission Impossible series as a kid.

    I loved how it really was a team effort to tackle that weeks problem, with each team member adding his or her strength to achieving the overall goal. Then the movie came out, the entire team gets killed of in the first five minutes, and the rest of the movie is superhero doing almost everything on his own.Ugh.

  8. chrislawson says

    Never saw the Woodward show (couldn’t countenance the thought after watching the excellent Callan, which is also a show about sadistic people, but the point of that series was that sadists and sociopaths should not be in charge of large, unaccountable govt agencies), but I saw the first Denzel movie and had absolutely no desire to revisit that world.

  9. says

    #2: I can see that — the heart of the premise of the show was revenge, after all. I guess 30 years of not even thinking about it has sanitized my memory.

  10. says

    Another factor, I find anyway, when watching old shows I loved, is that I’m watching now with a very different perspective. Thirty years ago,I watched through very different lenses than I do now and those lenses are coloring my perception of these old shows.

    As a kid, I absolutely loved Chuck Norris movies. Now, unwatchable. The movies didn’t change. I did.

  11. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    Best movies are at the library, leather bound, in paper form.

    Currently reading the latest from the weirdo Dan Brown, titled Origins.
    Interesting commentary by his tech-wizard character about the damage Religion has done to our growth.
    With a murder mystery/conspiracy thrown in to liven it up.
    Of course Dan’s recurring Harvard prof. , Langdon, is the book’s POV.
    About halfway through, myself, so no spoilers can I provide. While Dan is not a great writer, he is kinda “interesting”.

    Thank you letting me derail this thread.

  12. Michael McDarby says

    I just got to see Eighth Grade. Really good, and especially great for educators. Does a great job of getting us into the heads of an eighth-grade girls AND her father. Always good to remind us that even if we have NO idea what’s in their heads, there are near-universal fears and emotions that can be addressed if done carefully.

  13. markgisleson says

    #9 I also DLed some old MI shows. The tv show wasn’t super exciting (this genre has been worked to death since the ’60s) but the shows were solid, the plotlines were solid, and the acting wasn’t bad.

    But truthfully, only one ’60s show I’ve revisited has held up well: Jonny Quest. Hadji was no Apu and only one Bandit was used in the making of the series.

  14. says

    When I lived in Seattle, I kind of smirked at your description of life in Morris. Then I was accepted to Central Washington University and moved to Ellensburg.

    Oy, the pain of living in a small town near the epicenter of Bumblefuck, Nowhere is real. I repent. Mea culpa.