ALL THINGS BEING UNEQUAL

equalizer_ver5_xlg

Denzel Washington is a very likeable actor. He usually manages to lift things that he appears in that would be rather pedestrian without him. The Equalizer, loosely based on the Edward Woodward TV show of the 1980s, reunites Washington with director Antoine Fuqua. He plays Robert McCall, a man with a very menial job but a secret past that implies that he was some sort of special forces operative. So when he gets sucked in to helping a young girl who is under the control of evil Russian gangsters, McCall is forced to call upon his previous skills. Washington is watchable as ever but The Equalizer is basically  a very conventional revenge thriller. It’s entertaining in a very over-the-top way while you are watching it but none of it stays with you once you leave the cinema. The rest of the cast are pretty forgettable including Chloe Grace Moretz as Teri, the girl who forces McCall to utilise his previous skills, and it’s also far too long (over the two hour mark). If you like Denzel Washington, then you’ll enjoy The Equalizer. But don’t come to it with particularly high expectations…

Flight-poster-1

FLIGHT OF FANCY?
Denzel Washington is a very solid, reliable actor. He hasn’t made many great films but he manages to lift what is pedestrian to make it better. Flight is Robert Zemeckis’s new film starring Washington as drink and drug addicted airline captain, the wonderfully named Whip Whitaker, who is involved in a serious plane crash and questions begin to be asked about whether he was to blame for the plane’s malfunction and crash. It is a fairly simple conceit and it often feels like a made for TV movie, one of those ones on in the afternoon on Channel 5. But Flight is lifted (pardon the pun) by Washington’s empathetic performance as Whitaker. He is playing against type a little here, snorting coke and partying with airline stewardesses, but he is credible as the damaged protagonist who just can’t help himself. English actress Kelly Reilly (Sherlock Holmes, Above Suspicion) offers decent support as former drug addict Nicole, who falls for him and tries to redeem Whitaker. Flight is a film about redemption and thanks to some sterling work from supporting actors Bruce Greenwood as Whitaker’s union rep Charlie Anderson and Don Cheadle as lawyer Hugh Lang, it lends it an extra air of credibility and gravity. But it is Washington’s vehicle. Without him, it would have been released without any fanfare and a swift release on Blu-ray would have been its fate. All credit to Zemeckis too: he holds it all together, the crash itself is very well-directed and even though it is all rather telegraphed and obvious, you do enjoy the journey. It isn’t a great film but Flight is a decent film with a very impressive central performance. Worth checking out…

safe-house-poster


SAFE PAIR OF HANDS

Safe House is the latest film starring Denzel Washington and I went to see it recently, just before its release. The English-language feature debut from Swedish director Daniel Espinosa, Safe House is about CIA agent Tobin Frost (Washington), assumed to be a rogue agent by the CIA themselves but he is forced to return to the fold when he is left vulnerable in South Africa. He is taken to the safe house of the title, run by Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds). But the safe house is breached and so Weston has to try to keep Frost safe while they’re on the run. Elements within the CIA are after Frost because he has a list of compromised agents from every major security agency on the planet including MI5 and the CIA. On paper, you would think that Washington is a little bit too old for a role like this and that Safe House would just be another predictable and improbable action movie. But to Espinosa and Washington’s credit, it has a slightly off-kilter feel, both in the directing and the acting, so it does keep you watching. Reynolds as the less experienced agent turns in a decent performance even though he does feel outmatched at times by Washington. Support from Brendan Gleeson and Vera Farmiga as the senior CIA heads is very solid and the South Africa setting lends it a different mood to the scores of American-set suspense thrillers we’ve seen over the years. Espinosa is definitely a name to watch and if you like action thrillers with a little bit of intelligence, then Safe House is for you…