The movie's all about reading, especially with a critical eye, but when you take too close a look at its disparate parts, they neither add up nor have anything constructive to teach.
The director, Antoine Fuqua, relies on small details, which anchor the vigilante-as-saint myth in at least a minimal degree of reality.
Fuqua infuses The Equalizer with a low-key energy and is in no hurry to rush into things.
When was the last time you saw a lone hero stride toward the climactic killing ground in slow motion? Yesterday? An hour ago?
It gets sillier as it goes along, but it's never not entertaining.
I could have done without the barbed-wire noose and glass-shard fight on shattered mirrors. But I couldn't have done without Washington, who, like Liam Neeson, has reached a new cruising altitude as a leading man.
If The Equalizer is the hit it should be, it will give this veteran action star his very first movie franchise.
This is a kid's fantasy of how to be bigger and badder than anybody else. As for Washington, no doubt he now has his very own franchise.
More and better Equalizers will be welcome, just to watch Denzel finding new ways of getting even.