‘The Equalizer 3’ Review: John Wick Could Learn A Thing Or Two
— Updated on 27 November 2023

‘The Equalizer 3’ Review: John Wick Could Learn A Thing Or Two

— Updated on 27 November 2023
Garry Lu
Garry Lu

Chances are, this won’t be the first Equalizer 3 review that you’ve encountered online. But hopefully, it’ll be the last.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the rise of Antoine Fuqua’s The Equalizer reboots was parallel to that of the John Wick franchise.

The combination of stylish violence and an easy-to-digest revenge storyline made for reliable entertainment that didn’t demand much from the audience (with the exception of time and perhaps the price of admission at your local theatre).

RELATED: Good News, The ‘Training Day’ Prequel Is Still Happening

But somewhere between their respective first and second films, there was a point of divergence.

In the face of unanticipated success, and a sudden influx of financial backing from studios, the John Wick franchise muddled its own mythology with ridiculous stakes and an increasingly convoluted screen universe that didn’t actually have enough substance to sustain itself without the distraction of endless fight sequences.

It’s to the point where John Wick: Chapter 4 was forced to clumsily remind you both how and why the entire Keanu Reeves-led saga began in the most contrived way possible. However by that stage, as his titular hitman lay bleeding on the steps of Paris’ Sacré-Cœur, it was too late. The damage was done. The film series had already become a parody of itself.

This was no longer about a widower grieving his dead wife and the puppy taken away from him.

John Wick Chapter 4 Earns Franchise-Best Rotten Tomatoes Score

The Equalizer flicks, on the other hand, are to be commended for remembering the motivations of its lead character, retired US Marine and DIA agent turned vigilante Robert McCall (Denzel Washington), and staying the course without falling into the temptation of becoming bigger and unnecessarily louder.

That, in addition to yet another magnetic performance from Washington, is where The Equalizer 3 is strongest.

In the trilogy completer, which also re-welcomed director Antoine Fuqua and screenwriter Richard Wenk, Washington’s Robert McCall finds himself on assignment in Southern Italy, where he discovers a nefarious partnership between the Sicilian Mafia and terrorist networks.

Initially, he palms off the investigation to the US intelligence apparatus — namely a budding analyst named Emma Collins (Dakota Fanning) — so he can settle down and enjoy some much-deserved serenity in a small town on the Amalfi Coast.

But when the Sicilian Mafia threatens the very community that’s embraced old McCall with open arms and open hearts, he must once again unleash the monstrous side of himself from a guilt-ridden chapter of his life.

Despite the breathtaking European backdrop and heightened terrorism-related stakes, as previously mentioned, The Equalizer 3 hasn’t wavered from the underlying objective and ensured Robert McCall remains consistent as a character: he’s a man grappling with the sins of his past, and seeks moral redemption by protecting those who cannot protect themselves. That’s it. That’s true north on the compass. Every other element should align accordingly.

This is, however, a double-edged blade. Because if you’re expecting anything more than a stock-standard action movie should look elsewhere.

In the first Equalizer, Washington’s McCall reads The Old Man and The Sea and Don Quixote — two books where the protagonists famously get their ass kicked by life (literally and metaphorically) in their idealism-driven quests, and I suppose part of us has always been waiting for the other shoe to drop. Robert McCall’s arc concludes with slightly more tragedy than the loss of his own wife and, in The Equalizer 2, close friend slash former DIA colleague Susan Plummer (Melissa Leo).

[SPOILERS] That doesn’t happen. It’s all too neat and the story beats are borderline predictable.

“I always go in that direction at first. You live a life of violence, most of the time that’s how it ends, you know?” Antoine Fuqua explained BH.

RELATED: Tom Cruise Confirms He’s Developing A ‘Tropic Thunder’ Spin-Off

Good News: The 'Training Day' Prequel Is Still Happening

“But I think for Robert McCall, because he’s doing it for the right reasons, I thought that it was important that he has a positive ending.”

Additionally, at no point do you feel Robert McCall is in any sort of real danger. Unlike his counterpart in John Wick, another supposedly unrivalled killing force/death incarnate, who — in contrast — gets progressively more battered as time goes on. Hence the headline of this review.

Recently, Antoine Fuqua has hinted at the possibility of a prequel film about the “making” of Robert McCall during his years as a US Marine and DIA operative. Potentially with a digitally de-aged Denzel Washington.

“There’s a lot to unpack there with that guy. With Robert McCall,” he told us.

“I mean, you never say never [to opportunities like a prequel], and if the writers and producers want to discuss doing something like that… why not?”

And in all honesty — that sounds like an infinitely more compelling film than another Equalizer instalment featuring more or less of the same. But as far as Man On Fire reunions go, EQ3 ain’t half bad.

The Equalizer 3 is now screening in Aussie cinemas.

The Equalizer 3

Rotten Tomatoes Score
MA15+ 1 hour 49 minutes
Genre: Action Thriller
Actors: Denzel Washington, Dakota Fanning, David Denman, Sonia Ammar, Remo Girone
Directed by: Antoine Fuqua

There’s more where that came from: we watched and ranked the top 10 Denzel Washington movies. Check it out now.

Subscribe to B.H. Magazine

Garry Lu
After stretching his legs with companies such as The Motley Fool and the odd marketing agency, Garry joined Boss Hunting in 2019 as a fully-fledged Content Specialist. In 2021, he was promoted to News Editor. Garry proudly retains a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, black bruises from Muay Thai, as well as a black belt in all things pop culture. Drop him a line at [email protected]


Share the article