In The Equalizer 3, Denzel Washington delivers justice one last time as vigilante Robert McCall in the conclusion to the gritty action franchise. Director Antoine Fuqua concludes the trilogy in crowd-pleasingly brutal fashion, doubling down on elaborate fight scenes and triumphant retribution. While the plot follows expected beats, Washington powers this farewell chapter with gravitas and physical presence.
We open as McCall travels to Istanbul seeking a missing friend. The shadowy op soon unveils a conspiracy of trafficked children forced into crime. As McCall works outside legal limits to free the exploited youths, he becomes embroiled in a war against the Turkish mafia. Leaving a trail of righteous brutality, his mission tests loyalties as his connections in America also come under fire.
Washington steps back into the role smoothly, conveying McCall’s calm calculation and explosive fury. Now 60, the actor still excels at selling the close-combat choreography with conviction. McCall’s brooding intensity gets leavened by lighter character moments interacting with innocents he’s sworn to protect. As before, Washington makes virtue seem credible and complex even in the story’s most outrageous moments.
Director Fuqua maintains slick craft and clear spatial geography during action. No matter how vicious McCall gets, we track his efficient physicality within choreographed long takes. Shootouts feature tactile sensation and consequence beyond standard action fare. And while brutal, the film resists glamorizing violence, instead positioning it as necessary means to a morally sound end.
Melissa Leo returns as McCall’s witty handler, their scenes providing nice moments of banter touched with melancholy. But messages about community responsibility emerge through characters met along McCall’s journey instead of overt commentary. As before, keeping the spotlight on Washington proves wise – it’s compelling watching the actor bring gravitas even to genre pulp.
The Istanbul setting allows fresh backdrop for intrigue without overfamiliarity, while also providing scenic locales. Opening amidst sunny hillsides before descending into urban darkness mirrors McCall’s arc. And the Turkish cast creates an immersive sense of place and culture beyond the English dialogue scenes. While streamlined, the spatial geography keeps the action coherent and impactful.
Like prior entries, the film builds slowly until erupting in the hard R-rated action devotees expect. After initial reconnaissance, McCall deduces the cartel’s operations before dismantling them with swift brutality. Fuqua crafts these centerpieces creatively within the environments, from crowded train compartments to an electronics warehouse. Washington sells the physical toll amidst exertion, keeping it visceral.
For some, The Equalizer 3 may come off as redundant – Washington’s vigilante dispatches hordes of anonymous thugs in the name of righteousness repeatedly. But Fuqua infuses even familiar story beats with a stylish confidence. Washington again proves riveting as a gentle soul pushed to lethal extremes by injustice. And the film brings enough thematic and character finality to satisfy.
In the end, The Equalizer 3 is an indulgent yet fitting conclusion to this gritty trilogy. Denzel Washington delivers an intense quietly forceful performance, ably supported by Fuqua’s slick direction. It doesn’t reinvent the playbook, instead honoring franchise themes of morality and retribution with skill. For fans, this last dangerous mission provides a satsifying and poignant coda for one of cinema’s most hard-edged heroes.