Denzel Washington’s Riveting Return: ‘The Equalizer 3’ Delivers Thrills and Nostalgia

In the third installment of the Denzel Washington-led film series, “The Equalizer 3” breathes new life into the franchise by drawing inspiration from classic Westerns, notably the iconic “Shane.” While not aiming to scale lofty heights, this latest outing stands out as perhaps the most compelling chapter, offering a blend of dramatic depth and the signature “equalizing” action fans crave.

Washington, joined by director Antoine Fuqua and screenwriter Richard Wenk, infuses the film with a sense of sentimentality, particularly through the reunion with Dakota Fanning, nearly two decades after their collaboration in “Man on Fire.” Here, Washington’s world-weary retired assassin, Robert McCall, embarks on a mission of justice in Italy, where the Mafia provides ample ruthless adversaries for his quest to restore equilibrium.

The tale of “Equalizer 3” unfurls in medias res, catapulting viewers into an exhilarating opening sequence that swiftly validates the movie’s R rating mere minutes into the action. The encounter leaves McCall injured and in search of a place to heal, leading him to an idyllic coastal village where the warm hospitality of the locals slowly rekindles his humanity.

Much like the legendary gunslinger Shane, portrayed by Alan Ladd, McCall contemplates retiring his weapons and settling into a tranquil life. However, fate intervenes when the Mafia sets its sights on the town, forcing McCall to make a decision, albeit a somewhat predictable one in cinematic terms.

The narrative complexity deepens, beginning with the aftermath of the intense opening brawl and a critical tip McCall imparts to a young CIA agent (Fanning). Their collaboration gradually unravels a larger, more sinister conspiracy.

Despite the film’s fundamental template, characterized by Washington’s magnetic portrayal of a calm yet formidable force to be reckoned with, “The Equalizer 3” cleverly interlaces multiple plot threads. This strategic storytelling approach infuses the movie with emotional resonance, even though the primary threat and the crime boss (Andrea Scarduzio) fall into somewhat familiar territory.

Arriving nearly a decade after the first installment, with a sequel and a CBS series starring Queen Latifah in between, “The Equalizer 3” may not unequivocally conclude the saga, but it does provide a satisfying juncture at which to momentarily bid farewell to Robert McCall. In the world of equalizers, this latest adventure unequivocally stands as a powerful and nostalgic chapter.

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