In today’s post, I prefer to combine two flicks that were blah, semi-disappointing and somewhat predictable, yet they starred A-list actors and were packaged with hefty budgets to at the very least make them look cinematic enough to technically avoid B-movie status.
Though, stripped to the movies’ core lay placid and flat story lines full of generic, recycled character studies and predictable act structures that make any sort of zenith moment anti-climactic. This is definitely true for movie No. 1: The Equalizer starring Mr. Hotty himself, Denzel Washington, who plays a sort of Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) character, you know the retired bad-ass CIA agent in Taken I, II, and oh shit…yeah they decided to do the same narrative a third time, which is currently out in theaters.
Personally, I am thrilled I went with my gut and decided to pass on watching Neeson in his latest regurgitated serial, because Taken III is nothing more than the same tired story. But, hey, Neeson does do a good job. It’s not bad acting that gets under your skin in any of these movies or the cinematic value or quality of the film. It’s the bloody story line that’s unoriginal and fatigued. So, I wasn’t surprised to see the same old nonsense rear its stupid head in the form of Denzel’s The Equalizer.
Once again, like in the Taken franchise, we’re introduced to an undercover bad-ass cloaked in ordinary civilian life. The character is usually divorced, a widower, or now single due to strain from their previous bad-ass, “important” CIA, FBI, detective, cop, military or otherwise expert marksman career. Basically, it’s usually a male character that plays the all-in-one Bruce Lee/Swiss Army knife. He can usually murder like 20 people in less than 30 seconds and with one hand tied behind his back no less.
And in the case of The Equalizer the audience immediately can’t wait until sexy Denzel like Neeson rescues a damsel in distress. This time not a daughter or relative but a Russian prostitute played by Chloe Grace Moretz. Regardless of their dirty, taboo profession hookers still occasionally need saving from a group of nasty gangster pimps. In other words all you have to do is replace the bad guys with a different type of bad guys and the victim with someone else who’s pitiful. The main character is also replaceable of course — everyone is — and it’s the story that remains unchanged. I had in mind to write a review on this flick as well as the one below, but felt I could kill two birds by getting to the root of both.
This leads us to Enemy starring Jake Gyllenhaal, who is double billed playing Adam (a professor) and Anthony (an actor). Yes, it’s one of those films that tries to trick you into believing its going to be original and instead it comes across as trying too hard to be art school. Some reviewers of the movie think both characters are the same person; maybe it’s one of those split-personality situations Hollywood loves to default to. Who knows? But you want to care about either character and, instead, you find yourself annoyed by the decision to use contrived vagueness only to confuse the story into pointless, meaningless turns.
It’s even more absurd when Canadian director Denis Villeneuve decides to morph one female love interest into an insect at the end, literally in hopes to affix a “deeper” meaning. It’s so much unlike the amazing “ah, hah!” moment at the very end of The Sixth Sense. Those original endings are now few and far between. It feels like Enemy tried too hard to be clever and symbolic, but the story didn’t work hard enough to provide substance or meaning that would ultimately leave a lasting impression other than an “oh brother, give me a break” sort of residue at its conclusion. Leaving loose ends to allow the audience to draw their own conclusions has to be selectively done, and it’s rarely done correctly.
Nonetheless, regardless of how either of the movies failed to provide any satisfaction, if you must watch The Equalizer or Enemy then turn to Redbox, however it would be nice to see them on Netflix, if and when they ever come out on that platform. Though politics often plays a part in what movies Netflix can actually get a hold of, it seems executives of TV shows are less strict with releasing their series than movies.
This isn’t meant to be a detailed review or a spoiler for either movie, especially if you haven’t seen them. However, as a general analysis they’re decent films with mediocre story lines. They don’t suffer in terms of budget, cinematography, acting and performance. It’s all in the execution or lack there of. Watch them if you must, but save some money and rent them on Redbox for $1.50.
Of course, there are people who enjoyed both films better than I did. If you’re into renting or missed it in theaters, then check either out on Redbox and vote for yourself.
If you’re an action junky that doesn’t mind predictable films, you’ll like The Equalizer. If you can’t stand artsy movies with vague endings that leave little closure or leave you scratching your head then you might not like Enemy. The purpose of both movies is best served as decent rentals, but nothing more.
My Redbox Vote: Two decent films definitely worth $1.50 at Redbox. I would advise against the lazy route of renting it via OnDemand because you don’t feel like driving down the street to return a Redbox rental. Even if your late returning it, it’s still cheaper than OnDemand prices and definitely cheaper than theater prices.
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 61% or 3 stars
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 73% or 3.5 stars