Movie Review: “The Equalizer”

Denzel Washington, Marton Csokas, Chloe Grace Moretz, David Harbour
Antoine Fuqua

Denzel Washington has never shied away from making movies that many would consider beneath his talents, balancing Oscar-caliber films like “American Gangster” with less serious fare like “2 Guns.” But while it’s not the first time that the veteran actor has indulged in a little butt-kicking fun, “The Equalizer” is certainly his most entertaining – a “Taken”-like action thriller that reunites Washington with “Training Day” director Antoine Fuqua. In fact, the movie has a certain air of arrogance to it, as if to say, “Anything Liam Neeson can do, Denzel can do better,” and “The Equalizer” makes a pretty good argument for that, heralding a potential franchise for the actor which has curiously evaded him up until now.

Washington stars as Robert McCall, a former CIA black ops agent who faked his own death in order to live a quiet life in Boston, where he spends his days working at a hardware store and his nights drinking tea and reading at a local diner. It’s there that he meets a young prostitute named Teri (Chloe Grace Moretz), striking up a friendship with the girl during their frequent visits to the joint. When Teri doesn’t show up one night and McCall discovers that she was viciously beaten by her Russian pimp, he decides to pay the gangster a visit and teach him and his goons a lesson. McCall doesn’t realize that they had connections to the Russian mafia, however, and once word of the attack reaches Moscow, they send a specialist (Marton Csokas) to track down the men responsible, initially believing that it was rival mobsters starting a turf war. But after it’s revealed that the seemingly ordinary McCall acted alone, the Russians plan to make an example out of him, unaware of who they’re dealing with.

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The Light from the TV Shows: A Chat with Leah Gibson (“Rogue”)

Leah Gibson may not have a deep background in American television, but she’s breaking into the field in a big way as one of the stars of DirecTV’s first original series, “Rogue.” Bullz-Eye chatted with Gibson during the January 2013 Television Critics Association press tour, where we got some details about the show, including how she found her way into her character, as well as her reflection on being a part, albeit a small one, of the “Twilight” franchise.

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Bullz-Eye: So how are you enjoying “Rogue”?

Leah Gibson: It’s great! I’ve never done anything on this scale before. I’m from the west coast of Canada, so I’ve lived in Vancouver for the last five or six years and worked on different TV shows…guest stars, recurrings, whatever…and had some small roles in some big features, like “Twilight” and “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” But being a part of this show feels very different. It’s a very wonderfully written series that’s been an absolute joy to be a part of. The characters are very in-depth, and the intricacies between their relationships are just a joy to explore from script to script. Being a part of it has felt very much like being part of a 10-hour film, in a way, and I certainly have never seen anything of the like in Vancouver while I’ve been there. So being the token “foreigner” with all these Brits… [Laughs.] It’s been a whole different vibe on set and everything than I’ve been used to!

BE: Can you talk a bit about your character, Cathy Laszlo?

LG: Yes! Cathy Laszlo is…I’m the devoted wife to a hot-headed gangster, Alec Laszlo (Joshua Sasse), who’s the eldest son of Jimmy (Marton Csokas), who’s basically a crimelord. The Laszlos in general are a very infamous crime family, and my husband is very sort of… [Hesitates.] A lot of muscle, not so much brain. He often creates a mess for others to clean up, and my character sort of represents his foundation, his support network, the thought behind his action. I come to influence him in taking advantage of certain opportunities and claiming the status that goes along with those things at what turns out to be at a very high cost to our family.

BE: How much of the character was already on the page when you came to the role, and how much were you able to bring to her? Were there any aspects that were added?

LG: That’s an interesting question. You know, I went through a handful of auditions before I was booked on this job, and initially the sides for my character were sort of…I could tell that there was more being alluded to than was on the page, and as an actor with limited knowledge of where the show is going to go, you don’t want to make any really solid choices and, y’know, sort of make the wrong decision. I heard at some point that I was no longer being considered for the role, but then I got a phone call saying they’d like me for a chemistry reading with Joshua. So I went in and met Josh, and we did our thing, and we workshopped a couple of scenes with Nick Hamm, the executive producer, and…it was only then that I started to realize where they were really going with Cathy.

And then I showed up on set and, really, to be honest, I was very much informed by the wardrobe, the hair, and the makeup. It was a total transformation for this character. I’d never physically played a role like this before, so it was kind of a joy to embrace the character in a physical sense and be informed by the wardrobe, and the specific choices about the hair and makeup. She’s decked out to the nines, long nails, long, big hair, heavy makeup. I’m, like, “Okay, I get it.” So I would step onto set and just feel a different energy. And I had a few comments from…y’know, I’d worked with some of the crew members before on various different productions in Vancouver, and they’re, like, “Oh, my God, I didn’t even recognize you!” So it’s such a joy to play something like that, and to really physically feel it that way.

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