WARNING: This post contains SPOILERS about the the movie The Equalizer
I was super excited to see The Equalizer, not just because of all the hype surrounding it, but also Denzel Washington. But I came out really disappointed. And angry. I thought of doing a rant, but you know what they say about a picture and a thousand words. So here it is: The Cow’s Summary of . . .
Part Une: In Which Denzel Helps People
Meet Denzel. He is an average Nice Guy who works at
WalDepotHomeMart. Denzel spends his days being stoic and doing nice things for people.
Some of you may know Chloe as the ass-kicking star of Kickass1 and 2. Others may know her as the star of movies like If I Stay and Carrie. In short, she’s a pretty big deal. Everyone knows she can act, so I expected her to have a good, meaty role. Silly me. She was present for the first 15 minutes of the film, and then she got beaten up by her Russian pimp, which effectively fulfilled her role as That Thing Wot Triggered Denzel’s Quest.
Part Deux: In Which Denzel Goes On A Killing Rampage (But It Is Okay Because They Are All Bad Guys And He Is Not The Bad Guy He Is The Good Guy And You Know This Because In Between Killing Bad Guys He Does Nice Things For People)
Cue scenes of Thin Kevin Spacey doing Bad Stuff like beating patriotic Americans to death and killing Chloe Grace Moretz’s friend, who is only the second female character to make an appearance at this point, btw. Or maybe the third. You’d think Boston’s population is 90% men.
These scenes are juxtaposed with Denzel doing Good Stuff, like beating up two dirty cops who were extorting money from Ralphie’s mom’s pupusa place. (Yay, saving yet more wimmin!) Which is all fine and good for Denzel, but RALPHIE, IN THE FEWCHER, LEARN TO USE THE VIDEO FUNCTION ON YOUR PHONE TO RECORD THESE COPS COMING IN AND TAKING MONEY, OKAY?? Is that not like the first thing people do when faced with threats??! Seriously, Ralphie, get your shit together man.
There are also a lot of moments between Denzel and Thin Kevin Spacey wherein they stare deep into each other’s eyes and swear to kill each other.
All the heat! All the tenshun! Over a character who is hardly seen or heard from throughout the entire movie! Seriously, Chloe Grace Moretz makes an appearance in this movie purely to get beaten up and get Denzel all angry. I can’t even with the cliches here.
Part Trois: In Which Denzel Kills Everybody (But It Is Still Okay Because He Only Does It To Save Chloe)
So after a whole bunch of staring and vowing to end each other’s lives, Denzel and Thin Kevin Spacey finally have a showdown at
Ace Hardware HomeMart. I have to take a moment here to show my favoritest scene in this entire movie: That moment you’re stepping backwards cautiously in the dark, knowing there’s a trained killer inside the building with you . . . and you feel the sharp end of an electric drill touch the back of your heid.
Well played, Denzel. Well played.
So that guy dies, because a drill eating into your brain tends to do that, and then Denzel kills everybody else, including Thin Kevin Spacey. Then Denzel flies to Russia to finish off the mob boss. The mob boss lives in a mansion with many bodyguards, but Denzel slices through them all like an electric drill through someone’s hea–err, sorry.
There are other female characters in the movie, such as Ralphie’s mom (Notable Moment: Being victimized by asshole cops) and Denzel’s old colleague from the CIA (Notable Moment: Giving Denzel information on Thin Kevin Spacey).
Do you guys see why I was so pissed off by the movie? Aside from the straight-up predictability of the plot, that is. But what really got my blood boiling was . . . Well, let’s see. There were plenty of male characters, many of them active, multi-layered characters with clear motivations. Even Mr. I-don’t-know-how-to-use-video-cameras Ralphie is an active character who has motivation (be a security guard), works hard to achieve that (lose weight to meet the requirements), and ends up saving Denzel. But out of a scant number of FOUR women in the show, only ONE does something remotely active (the CIA agent who gives Denzel info). The other three women serve one sole purpose throughout the movie: To be victimized.
When I pointed out the discrepancy to Mr. Cow, he said, “But it won’t be realistic to have an equal number of women in the show. Russian mobsters aren’t exactly known for hiring women.” Admittedly I don’t know how many women Russian mobsters tend to hire, but I highly doubt that having a handful of women in the gang is going to break the suspension of disbelief. I’m not even asking for a 50:50 ratio here. I’d be totes happy with 70:30. Heck, even 90:10 is better than what we currently have, which is 100:0.
And what about characters like Ralphie, or that dirty cop? Why not make THEM women? Even if both Ralphie and Dirty Cop were female, the end result would still be around 70% male, 30% female. Last I heard, there are plenty of female security guards and female cops in the States. Why do those roles have to go to male actors? Or how about giving existing female characters more meaning rather than to act solely as a plot device to spur the male characters?
Come on, Hollywood. It’s 2014. We can do so much better than this. We need to do so much better than this.
ETA: Here’s an excellent post that shows how long this problem has been going on and how insidious it is.