The plot is rather simple, Robert McCall(Denzel Washington) plays an ex-spy? Killer? Never really explained, all we know is that he’s out of the business and works at a fake Home Depot. Then one night he watches as a young prostitute(Chloe Moretz) get abused something goes off, he then goes on simply a killing spree, taking out every level of a Russian mob in Boston.
Where this film stands apart from most of the “ex-bad ass goes on a revenge binge” type film is that this movie is brutal. The violence is beyond over the top. McCall’s lack of empathy for the men he kills is interesting here but never looked into. They focus on him being slightly OCD, which again is just something to make his character stand out it never really becomes a part of the story. The movie is lightly based on a television show with the same title.
The film succeeds only in its action, the brutal R-rating is deserved and works. No CGI blood, this movie makes the violence very real. McCall weirdly barely uses guns and goes for books or tools to take out bad guys. Where the movie fails in not taking things a step further with the story. McCall is basically a quiet lunatic, I guess we’re suppose to believe he’s a nice guy who has an extreme on off switch but I never bought it. His brutality increases as the movie goes along and he seems very addicted to it. We spend most of the movie following McCall as he lays down his own balance of justice on, robbers, dirty cops, etc. None of which connect to the story. I thought they were going to use this for something greater but they never do. The film at no point tries to explain why almost all of a sudden McCall just goes on a vengeance binge. Somewhere in there was a very interesting movie, they decide to ignore and make it as generic as possible.
The third act of the film is so cliche riddled and so predictable, that it’s almost pointless to watch it. McCall also comes off as a quiet Superman. Nothing seems to hurt him and he seems to know what the villains are going to do several steps before they even think about doing it. Marton Czokas’ plays a very good Russian mobster. His character stands out in many ways, but by the end you know he is not a threat to McCall so the drama is gone. Nothing is a surprise, you’re just waiting for the next beat before the movie ends.
Antoine Fuqua is one of my favorite directors, he just makes good action movies. It felt like though the movie he wanted to make was held back here. It’s going on direction and then basically turns into Mr. and Mrs. Smith, by that I mean that it had something interesting going and then just decides to dumb it down and end it with a big shoot out in a department store. Kind of a let down.