Denzel Washington gives his hero a jumpstart in this likable (if sometimes gruesome) threequel.
I discovered a word called “triaphilia,” which is the superstition that bad things come in threes. According to an article I came across, scientists would determine that bad things don’t always come in threes, as humans would look for a certain pattern to extract order from disorder. And this tendency is also known as “apophenia,” which was described by German psychologist Klaus Conrad.
The T.V. show “The Equalizer” has inspired a film trilogy, all directed by Antoine Fuqua and starring Denzel Washington as the former Marine and fighting machine Robert McCall. I didn’t care for the first two movies, but “The Equalizer 3” has damaged that superstition by being the most entertaining of the three films.
As the film begins, Robert takes down a wine farm in Sicily, Italy, where they run a drug-smuggling operation. After surviving a shot in the back, he finds himself in the care of a kind doctor named Enzo (Remo Girone), who has to make the “He fell” excuse for protection. In his Altomonte town, everyone lives on peace and tranquility. It’s the kind of place that Robert has been seeking for a long while, and he deserves to live out his golden years there.
Threatening his serenity are a criminal organization-the one running that illegal drug operation-who pray on the weak, and wish to take full control of everyone. They hang old men out windows, burn buildings, and even beat up a kind cop (Eugenio Mastrandrea) for reporting their arson. The leader is known as Vincent Quaranta (Andrea Scarduzio), and when Robert kills his younger brother, his evil nerves really kicks in.
Washington’s new young co-star is his old “Man on Fire” co-star Dakota Fanning, who plays the young CIA agent Emma Collins. She is trying to make sense on the villains, and is interested by Robert’s charms and versatility. She isn’t the kind of agent to arrest the man killing the bad guys. Thank God. In fact, she acknowledges that he knows what he’s doing.
Like the last two films, “The Equalizer 3” gets pretty gruesome with the criminals cutting off hands, and getting their comeuppance from Robert. It can be a bit much, and I respect people’s delicate constitutions. But on the other hand, it has better respect for Italy’s values this year than “Mafia Mamma” or “Fast X” or that guy who carved his and his fiancées initials in the coliseum. This movie likes the people Robert comes across and makes friends with, and in a way, and it likes this country’s violent side. But it also likes the way the hero is able to preside over the villains, and it’s entertaining to see how he sends them to their graves.
With “Creed III” and “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” in the rear view mirror, 2023 could be a good year for threequels, as “The Equalizer 3” joins the club. I still have a few more to see to determine that, but I think we’re on a roll. Could it be the energy talking or my appreciation for Denzel Washington and his “Man on Fire” reunion with Fanning kicking in? Maybe. Or I could be optimistic.
I’m pretty sure I’ll get some comments on the violence in the film, but then again, there are this have seen torture porn movies, so why should I worry what they think? And I still can’t believe it took me three movies to see something good inside this franchise. Maybe I needed to be patient. Or maybe it had to find a way to grow on me. I don’t know.
This article was written by me with full support of the SAG-AFTRA and Writers Guild of America strikes.