Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes
I could have done without the barbed-wire noose and glass-shard fight on shattered mirrors. But I couldn't have done without Washington, who, like Liam Neeson, has reached a new cruising altitude as a leading man.
New York Post:
Washington is a master at putting his own inimitable and stylish spin on even the most familiar situations.
Wall Street Journal:
The whole movie turns into a slaughterhouse. The question isn't who wants it-box office action is assured-but who needs it?
The line separating the bad guys from the good is almost nonexistent.
Ponderously overlong and not even half as much fun as it should have been ...
As entertainment, The Equalizer rarely delivers: It's like a superhero origin story invested with half-assed gravitas.
Truly, you don't have to watch former secret agents relentlessly wipe out villains. But if you want to, you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone better than Washington for the task.
Fuqua isn't the only one desperate to elevate the routine material; screenwriter David Wenk shoehorns in a needless subplot in which the hero mentors a young loser... and Washington grandstands his way through several heated soliloquys.
This one's strictly for those who enjoyed "Man on Fire," the other prominent kid-protection fable, slick and bloodthirsty, in the Washington oeuvre.
Christian Science Monitor:
This is a kid's fantasy of how to be bigger and badder than anybody else. As for Washington, no doubt he now has his very own franchise.
Fort Worth Star-Telegram/DFW.com:
Just having Washington in the title role elevates the film from a tired rerun - complete with (yawn) brutal Russian mobsters - to a rousing, crowd-pleasing take on a movie formula, like a forgettable pop song turned into a dizzying jazz solo.
Los Angeles Times:
A tense thriller that also has more on its mind than the familiar genre constraints it operates under.
Fuqua's movie is just as dopey and creaky as the series.
The director, Antoine Fuqua, relies on small details, which anchor the vigilante-as-saint myth in at least a minimal degree of reality.
It scrapes together two gripping, closely observed acts before lobotomizing itself for an over-the-top final third that tips the needle from "Pleasure" to "Pleasure, Guilty, Shame on You!"
New York Daily News:
Washington, now 60, continues to push himself to new areas and fine-tune his charisma. He remains one of Hollywood's most effortless and engaging actors.
New York Times:
Mr. Fuqua, while not the world's most subtle filmmaker, directs the action sequences with bluntness and clarity and effectively uses his star as an oasis of calm in a jumpy, nasty universe.
If audiences and star are so inclined, it's easy to see this premise and this character - a tough, taciturn gent burdened with regret and a very special skill set - going into Roman numerals.
Fuqua infuses The Equalizer with a low-key energy and is in no hurry to rush into things.
The film runs long, at 131 minutes, but Denzel Washington, as ever, is the essence of cool.
If you skip it, you're missing one of the year's signal works of superior Hollywood craftsmanship.
San Francisco Chronicle:
"The Equalizer" fulfills the first demand of a movie of this kind. It presents us with an evil so horrible so as to give us complete license to want to see it wiped off the face of the Earth.
Globe and Mail:
More and better Equalizers will be welcome, just to watch Denzel finding new ways of getting even.
We're given precious little story (or back story) from screenwriter Richard Wenk (The Expendables 2), but not much is needed for a tale this primal and an actor this watchable.
Willfully empty but wildly entertaining, "The Equalizer" stands out from its peers like a wolf among lapdogs, as Fuqua and Washington bring out the best in each other for the benefit of the audience.
It gets sillier as it goes along, but it's never not entertaining.
The Equalizer is a stone-dumb movie, unwilling to allow Washington even a hint of uniqueness (apart from the usual silverware straightening and public book reading, shorthand cliches for "smart").
It's great if that's what you're into, but is this the best use our culture has for a talent like Denzel Washington?
New York Magazine/Vulture:
When was the last time you saw a lone hero stride toward the climactic killing ground in slow motion? Yesterday? An hour ago?
Even drenched in blood and fake rain, this "Equalizer" leaves its star - and the audience - high and dry.
If The Equalizer is the hit it should be, it will give this veteran action star his very first movie franchise.