Home » ‘The Equalizer 3’ Review – Denzel Washington Shines in Mixed Finale

‘The Equalizer 3’ Review – Denzel Washington Shines in Mixed Finale

by Andrew J. Salazar
Denzel Washington as Robert McCall holds back a mobster from shooting him with a small gun during an intense action scene in THE EQUALIZER 3.

Denzel Washington and director Antoine Fuqua’s trilogy comes to an entertaining, albeit incredibly safe, finale with The Equalizer 3. Loosely based on the 1980s spy thriller TV show of the same name, the success of this film series can be attributed to Washington’s cold-blooded take on government assassin Robert McCall paired with Fuqua’s ruthless action. The actor-director duo have built a repertoire working together since 2001’s Training Day, a movie regarded as one of the best from Washington’s iconic career. Their shared cinematic touch can be genuinely felt in The Equalizer 3, though your enjoyment of this sequel will largely depend on how you’ve set your expectations. If you’re looking to see Denzel do what he does best and brutally take out goons with ease, then you’re in luck! However, if you’re looking to sink your teeth into something deeper, The Equalizer 3 leaves much to be desired. 

At the start of the story, Robert McCall finds himself in Southern Italy acting more like a vigilante tracking down a deadly mafia, not for the United States government but for reasons unknown to the viewer. After painting the walls red with multiple waves of mobsters, McCall is severely wounded and taken out of his element. He soon finds himself under the care of a generous doctor named Enzo (Remo Girone) in a nearby seaside town. He begins to grow closer and closer to the townspeople as he slowly heals. Paradise won’t last forever as it turns out the mob McCall was initially investigating has their hooks deep in this community, bleeding it dry of its resources. With the help of a new ally in CIA agent Emma Collins (Dakota Fanning), McCall takes the law into his own hands and seeks to bring righteous justice to this small Italian city. 

A greater mystery revolving around the Italian mob and its connections to terrorists in the Middle East is unraveled as Robert McCall gets further involved. For it being teased as this epic finale, The Equalizer 3 is much more personal and tame in terms of the number of action sequences. Writer Richard Wenk returns to the franchise with a more character-focused screenplay, giving more time for McCall to reflect on the horrific deeds of his past. Our lead assassin’s age has gotten to him, both physically and emotionally. Washington’s performance leans hard into this aspect and reveals some fresh, unexpected sides to the merciless killer. How much longer can McCall keep up the bloodshed? Is he destined to die doing what he does best, and who will remember him when he’s gone? By exploring these ideas, The Equalizer 3 does act as a serviceable ending to Denzel Washington’s McCall. 

However, these themes are touched upon in the most predictable ways possible. The Equalizer 3 is, ultimately, a movie that you’ve already seen before. The town savior plot goes through all the expected beats, which is not necessarily the worst offense. Sometimes, people can be satisfied with a familiar story as long as there are true cinematic thrills on display. In this regard, Antoine Fuqua mostly delivers. He’s faced mixed reception across his career, his last best-received films being 2021’s The Guilty and 2016’s The Magnificent Seven, but from the opening set piece of The Equalizer 3, we’re reminded of Fuqua’s taste for intensity. It’s a real shame then that this sequel can barely hold that tension up for its near two-hour runtime. Even if the plot is simple, the exciting moments where Denzel can shine are spread too far apart from each other. 

Denzel Washington as Robert McCall breaks the hand of an Italian mafia leader played by Andrea Dodero in THE EQUALIZER 3.
Denzel Washington & Andrea Dodero in ‘The Equalizer 3’ courtesy of Sony Pictures

At its worst, you’ll be waiting too long for something unexpected or surprising to happen during The Equalizer 3. Or at the very least, something interesting. At its best, though, you’ll be reminded why Denzel Washington is one of Hollywood’s last bonafide megastars. Even when given a weak script, Denzel can find a moment or two to justify the whole price of a movie ticket. His take on Robert McCall is still really that entertaining after nearly a decade in the role. And to the film’s credit, while its pacing is too slow, the story does take its time setting up its villains so that when Denzel gives them what they deserve, it’s especially satisfying. This is also the reason why the movie’s rushed third act is kind of forgivable? Sure, the resolution comes quick and easy, but Washington is as bone-chilling as ever here.

Dakota Fanning’s almost 20-year on-screen reunion with Washington, since Tony Scott’s 2004 film Man on Fire, is rather disappointing given that she mostly gives exposition. She’s not even spared any action beats which feels like a bigger waste to pair them together again after such a long time. This just speaks to the overall mixed nature of The Equalizer 3. Robert McCall is given a justified final bow, yet the movie still doesn’t work as a satisfying finale. This would be more acceptable if it wasn’t for the fact that you could count all the memorable action bits with only one hand. Not to add insult to injury, but when John Wick: Chapter 4 raised the bar for action cinema earlier this year, The Equalizer 3 feels somewhat uninspired. This is quite upsetting when moments of greatness do come through – why couldn’t the whole movie be like that?

Nonetheless, The Equalizer 3 will be perfectly fine for those looking to see Denzel Washington shine again on the big screen. Now, looking ahead, it’s easy to see this sequel being a massive hit once it hits its digital/streaming release. Antoine Fuqua and the great cinematographer Robert Richardson craft thrilling visuals worthy of the theatrical expereince, as scarce as they may be. With Denzel delivering the goods as always, this combination is going to be more than enough to glue audiences to their seats at home. It’s the kind of movie that is entertaining enough to keep some of your friends and family gathered around the TV during a party or get-together. The Equalizer 3 might not be entirely good, but Washington and Fuqua can still create some of that original movie magic together.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

The Equalizer 3 hits theaters September 1!

Follow Managing Editor Andrew J. Salazar on Twitter: @AndrewJ626


George Tweed August 29, 2023 | 4:23 pm - 4: 23 pm

How may scripts have you wrote ?How many movies have you directed ? How many movies have you starred ?. You Suck, and this Review Suck.

Corazon N. Marpuri August 30, 2023 | 8:56 am - 8: 56 am

Been waiting for this EQUALIZER 3 sequel, I’m so excited to watch it on Netflix I have watched Equalizer 1 and 2 repeatedly on Netflix♥


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.