The Equalizer

Viewed – 14 February 2017  Netflix

I really don’t know what’s taken me so long to get around to this.  It’s Denzel Washington in a remake of the much loved cult TV show that starred the late Edward Woodward.  Now, I can’t say I’m all that familiar with the show, but Denzel killing bad guys never gets old.  So here he plays a mundane blue collar guy who works in a hardware store and by night frequents a diner to read books and swap small talk with the local troubled young prostitute (Chloe Grace Meretz).  Now before you make the leap that I did that this was more Taxi Driver than anything else, firstly you wouldn’t be far wrong but said blue collar guy also possesses mad skills as demonstrated when he goes up against a gang of Russian mobsters after said prostitute winds up in hospital.  So less the social commentary and more a strong case of picking on the wrong guy, ala John Wick, Leon etc.


What this lacks in originality it more than makes up for with several solid performances and well choreographed action and some brutal violence that makes every stabbing, every punch and every broken bone really hit home.  Denzel is on great form, charismatic and deadly and plays the duel ‘everyman’ and ‘trained killer’ personas effortlessly.  This is aided well my a scenery chewing, stand out turn from Marton Csokas as the man called in to solve the problems Denzel creates.  Moretz is also good if a little underused for a large portion of the movie, but every scene she’s in is decent, with clear echoes of Jodie Foster.

Sad then that in the final act, a very stupid decision by the supposedly intelligent bad guy lets the show down and plausibility is stretched as the movie tries to tie everything up in a neat bow, regardless if it rings true or not.  Which is a shame because Antoine (Training Day) Fuqua’s movie is otherwise stylish, thrilling and confident … and a helluva lot of fun.  If this was the 80’s and it was Arnie or Stallone, I could forgive such developments, but cemented in a fairly believable world, I didn’t think the ending worked in the context of what had come before.  That said, this is still worth your time, especially if you’re a fan of Denzel Washington.

Verdict:  3.5 /5

What Lies Within

Viewed – 21 May 2016  Pay-Per-View

A young couple (Gabriella Wright & Bret Roberts) with a strained marriage following a miscarriage, decide to go to a secluded cabin in the woods in an attempt at reconciling their issues.  However once there the husband’s underlying jealousy and the woman’s on going psychological trauma begin to cause problems.

What Lies Within

Now I have seen a lot of movies in my time and some were pretty poorly made, but this woefully amateurish attempt at a horror thriller felt from the off like a group of friends given a camera and asked to make something.  The result is a flimsy attempt at a story with feeble attempts at acting and next to no technical ability.  It’s filmed with a complete lack of tension and cheap jump scares, and an eerie looking location cannot make up for a total lack of ability to pull the viewer in.  Supposedly creepy things lurking in the woods, lingering camera angles and a secluded setting should at least generate a degree of atmosphere … but along with terrible acting, I struggled to get through this one.  Towards the end some pretty rough violence kicks in, clearly an attempt to have something going on – as for a good hour, nothing happens … and I mean nothing.  So we get graphic stabbings, some action with an axe and even an eye piercing, but guess what?  It makes no sense and comes out of nowhere, meaning any possibility of a believable or interesting narrative is ultimately lost in place of shock value.  The actors try their best but are laughably inexperienced.  So the point of this movie is totally lost on me.  A tacked on twist at the end only goes to make the whole experience all the more annoying.

Director Lucas Pavetto shows a total lack of talent and hopefully never picks up a movie camera again.  The rest of those involved can go back to their day jobs.  Avoid.

Verdict:  1 /5

Rise of the Footsoldier

Viewed – 02 November 2008  DVD

Blimey, I have seen some violent films in my time…but this takes the biscuit.  There’s more stabbings, beatings, broken faces, smashed beer bottles and spurts of blood per minute in this film than I think I have ever witnessed.  Add to this some extreme uses of colourful language, shagging, tits, and then more violence – and I think you get the idea what this film is like.  Form an orderly cue at the door if it’s not your ‘bag’.

Now don’t get me wrong, this is a well made, very well acted Brit gangster flick with more balls-to-the-wall energy than The Krays & Snatch put together, following the rise of Essex hard-man Carlton Leach (Ricci Harnett) from nutter football hooligan to nutter bouncer to slightly less nutter gang leader.  There’s no glamour here ladies & gentlemen, just mad bastards doing mad things all in the name of greed, money, drugs and power – usually all sorted out with a good kicking.  The story is fascinating, especially as its based on true events, and some recognisable faces pop up from your favourite Brit crime flicks and even Eastenders. 

My only gripe remains that there’s nobody to identify with (unless you yourself are a head case sociopath) and Carlton Leach is just portrayed as an unpleasant scum bag.  Yet if like me you can eat this stuff up for breakfast, then this is well worth your time, as its all done with such assured power, that its hard not to be impressed.

Verdict:  4 /5