The Equalizer (film)

The Equalizer is a 2014 American vigilante action film directed by Antoine Fuqua, loosely based on the 1980s TV series of the same name. Written by Richard Wenk, it stars Denzel Washington, Marton Csokas, Chloë Grace Moretz, David Harbour, Bill Pullman and Melissa Leo. The film focuses on a former U.S. Marine turned DIA intelligence officer who reluctantly returns to action to protect a teenage prostitute from members of the Russian mafia. Principal photography began in June 2013 in Massachusetts.

The Equalizer
The Equalizer poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAntoine Fuqua
Written byRichard Wenk
Based on
The Equalizer
  • Michael Sloan
  • Richard Lindheim
Produced by
CinematographyMauro Fiore
Edited byJohn Refoua
Music byHarry Gregson-Williams
Distributed bySony Pictures Releasing[2]
Release date
  • September 7, 2014 (2014-09-07) (TIFF)
  • September 26, 2014 (2014-09-26) (United States)
Running time
132 minutes[3]
CountryUnited States
Budget$55–73 million[4][5]
Box office$192.3 million[4]

The Equalizer had its world premiere at 2014 Toronto International Film Festival on September 7, 2014, and was released worldwide on September 26, 2014 in conventional and IMAX theaters. It received mixed reviews from critics, who praised the visual style, direction, acting, soundtrack, and action sequences but criticized its violence and plot. Nonetheless, it became a commercial success with a worldwide gross of over $192 million on a production budget of $55–73 million.

A sequel was released on July 20, 2018, with Washington, Wenk and Fuqua returning.


For the last few decades, Robert McCall has lived a quiet life in Boston working at a Home Mart hardware store, where he befriends many of his co-workers and helps one named Ralphie (Johnny Skourtis) pass his qualification exam to become a security guard. Unable to sleep, McCall spends some late nights reading in a 24/7 diner where he befriends Alina (Chloe Grace Moretz), a teenage prostitute working for the Russian mafia.

One night, Alina is hospitalized after being brutally beaten by her pimp, Slavi (David Meunier). Hearing of the beating, McCall visits Alina's hospital room and speaks with her friend, Mandy (Haley Bennett). McCall visits Slavi and offers to pay $9,800 for Alina's freedom. Slavi refuses, dismissing McCall as old and impotent. McCall then kills Slavi and four of his men with skillful close combat efficiency, using the men's own weapons, various objects in the office, and his bare hands.

Vladimir Pushkin (Vladimir Kulich), Slavi's boss and a powerful Russian mafia kingpin, sends his enforcer, Teddy Rensen (Marton Csokas), to find and eliminate the culprit. In the meantime, Ralphie withdraws his security guard application, and instead takes a second job with his mother at their family restaurant. When McCall learns that the restaurant was set on fire by corrupt policemen, Detectives Harris (Robert Wahlberg) and Gilly (Timothy John Smith), as an act of extortion, he confronts and beats the officers, forcing them to pay back all the money they have extorted by threatening to publicize their crimes from a video recording McCall made on his phone. Ralphie then returns to the store and passes his test, becoming a security guard at the store.

Rensen visits Mandy, questioning her about who could have killed Slavi. When Mandy tells him that "a nice man, a black man" had come to visit Alina in the hospital, he kills her to cover his tracks by strangling her to death.

After finding video footage of McCall entering the club where Slavi was killed, Rensen visits McCall at his apartment, posing as a police officer, and later makes two attempts to capture him. However, McCall escapes after killing a hitman who tries to ambush him at the diner and knocking out one of Rensen's associates. McCall then visits an old friend and DIA colleague Susan Plummer (Melissa Leo), who uses her resources to give him information on Pushkin and his operations. Plummer also informs McCall that Teddy Rensen's true name is Nikolai Itchenko, a former member of the Russian secret police with Spetsnaz training.

Stepping up his actions against Pushkin, McCall subdues Frank Masters (David Harbour), who is a crooked detective on Pushkin's payroll and has been helping Rensen, while forcing him to help gain access to one of Pushkin's local money-laundering operations. Once there, McCall holds the gangster running the operation at gunpoint, subdues his cronies, and orders Masters to inform the police of the money-laundering operation. From Masters, McCall obtains a memory stick loaded with information about Pushkin's illegal activities, which he emails to the FBI. McCall then confronts Itchenko at a restaurant, revealing that he knows his history and pledging to bring down Pushkin's criminal enterprise. When McCall destroys the oil tankers that belong to Pushkin, which causes the latter to lose millions of dollars and the respect of his associates, Pushkin orders Itchenko to kill McCall.

Itchenko and his henchmen go to the Home Mart store and take Ralphie, Jenny, and several other of McCall's co-workers hostage, threatening to kill them if McCall does not surrender. After arriving at the store, McCall kills Itchenko's henchmen one by one using booby traps constructed with items in the store, while rescuing Ralphie. However, McCall is wounded in the process during a struggle between himself and the second-to-last of Itchenko's henchmen. Ralphie comes back to pull the injured McCall out of the store, but is shot in the leg himself by Itchenko's last henchman. After getting Ralphie to escape and killing the last henchman, McCall confronts Itchenko and kills him with a nail gun.

Three days later, McCall travels to Moscow, kills all of Pushkin's guards at his mansion, and tricks him into electrocuting himself. After his return to the United States, McCall is approached by Alina outside a neighborhood grocery store, learning that she has started a new life after being freed from Slavi's control and having found a job. She thanks McCall for giving her a second chance. McCall is inspired to continue using his skills to help people in need and posts an online advertisement, now identifying himself as "The Equalizer".



In June 2010, it was announced that Russell Crowe was looking to bring The Equalizer to the big screen directed by Paul Haggis, with Crowe attached to play Robert McCall.[6][7]

In December 2011, it was reported that Denzel Washington would star in the title role of the film version, to be financed by Sony Pictures Entertainment and Escape Artists.[6][8] Director Antoine Fuqua came on board to direct on March 21, 2013, reuniting him with Washington after their successful collaboration on the 2001 Oscar-winning film Training Day.[9] Chloë Grace Moretz was announced as a co-star on May 10, 2013; Anna Kendrick, Kelly Macdonald and Nina Dobrev were also considered.[10] On May 31, 2013, Melissa Leo was cast in the film. Leo previously worked with Washington in the 2012 film Flight, and with Fuqua in Olympus Has Fallen (2013).[11] Coincidentally, Leo actually guest starred in a season one episode of the original Equalizer television series titled "The Defector", in which she portrayed the daughter of a former Soviet agent, who enlists McCall's help to defect to the United States. Marton Csokas was cast to play the villain on May 17.[12]

Filming began in June 2013 with locations in Salisbury, Hamilton, Chelsea, Haverhill, and Boston, Massachusetts.[13]

On June 21, 2013, Harry Gregson-Williams was hired to compose the music for the film.[14] Varèse Sarabande released a soundtrack album for The Equalizer on September 23, 2014.[15]

The song "Guts Over Fear" by rapper Eminem featuring Sia, with production by Emile Haynie, premiered in trailers for the film.[16] The song also plays over the closing credits.


Promotion and marketingEdit

The first official image from the film was released on December 6, 2013. On August 6, 2012, Sony had originally planned on an April 11, 2014 release date, but on July 5, 2013, the released date pushed back to September 26, 2014.[17][18] The first official poster for the film was released on April 16, 2014.[19] On April 22, USA Today revealed photos from the film.[20] On May 24, the trailer for the film was released.[21] On June 12, another official trailer for the film was released.[22] On July 16, the IMAX poster for the film was released.[23]

Theatrical releaseEdit

The film had a premiere at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival on September 7, 2014.[24] Sony released the film in IMAX screen theaters worldwide on September 26, 2014.[25]


Box officeEdit

The Equalizer grossed $101.5 million in North America and $90.8 million in other territories for a worldwide gross of $192.3 million, against a net production budget of $55 million.[4]

The film was released on September 26, 2014, in the United States and earned $12.5 million from 3,236 theaters in its first opening night including the $1.45 million it earned from 2,693 screens from Thursday night showings. On the second day the film earned $13.5 million and $8.1 million on the third day.[26][27] Its opening day is the third biggest for Washington, tailing behind American Gangster ($15.8 million) and Safe House ($13.6 million).[28] On its opening weekend the film earned $34,100,000 ($10,816 per theater) and debuted at number one at the box office. The film broke several records at the box office during its opening weekend including the biggest R-rated debut of September, surpassing Jackass Number Two record ($29 million), the biggest IMAX opener of September, the biggest debut weekend gross for Antoine surpassing Olympus Has Fallen ($30 million), the fifth biggest domestic opening for Washington behind the aforementioned American Gangster ($43.6 million), Safe House ($40.2 million), and eventually behind its sequel The Equalizer 2 ($35.8 million) and The Magnificent Seven ($35.7 million). It was also the fourth biggest for a film released in September.[29][30][31] It earned $3.3 million from 352 IMAX theaters.[32] Audiences for the debut weekend of the film were 52% male and 48% female, with 65% of ticket buyers over 30 years old.[33]

The Equalizer earned $17.8 million overseas from 65 territories from 4,500 screens during its opening weekend with $1.4 million of the gross coming from 137 IMAX theaters.[34] The film broke several September openings record in various territories including the UK, Netherlands, Israel, and Egypt.[35] Top openings include the UK ($2.9 million), Russia ($2.7 million), Mexico ($1.4 million), Brazil ($1.3 million) United Arab Emirates ($875,000) and Malaysia ($650,000). Showings from Village Roadshow markets grossed an estimate $2.4 million with top openings including Australia ($1.9 million), New Zealand ($180,000) and Singapore ($300,000).[36][37]

Critical responseEdit

On Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, The Equalizer holds an approval rating of 60% based on 203 reviews, and an average rating of 5.70/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "The Equalizer is more stylishly violent than meaningful, but with Antoine Fuqua behind the cameras and Denzel Washington dispensing justice, it delivers."[38] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 57 out of 100, based on 41 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[39] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A–" on an A+ to F scale.[40][better source needed]

Home mediaEdit

The Equalizer was released on Blu-ray and DVD on December 9, 2014 by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.[41] Later, it was released on Ultra HD Blu-ray on July 10, 2018, 10 days before the sequel was released in theaters.[42]


On February 24, 2014, seven months before the release of the film, it was announced that Sony Pictures and Escape Artists were planning a sequel, with Richard Wenk penning the script.[43][44][45] In early October 2014, Fuqua said in an interview that there would be a sequel to the film only if audiences and Denzel Washington wanted it. He stated McCall was an interesting character and that the sequel could have more of an international flavor.[46] On April 22, 2015, Sony announced that a sequel would be made.[47]

In July 2017, Columbia Pictures announced that a portion of the filming would take place in the Brant Rock area of Marshfield, which took place over two weeks in November 2017.[48] The Equalizer 2 was released in the U.S. on July 20, 2018.


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  2. ^ "The Equalizer to get an IMAX release". Retrieved June 25, 2014.
  3. ^ "The Equalizer (15)". British Board of Film Classification. September 3, 2014. Retrieved September 3, 2014.
  4. ^ a b c "The Equalizer (2014) - Box Office Mojo". September 26, 2014. Retrieved January 13, 2014.
  5. ^ FilmL.A. (May 2015). "2014 Feature Film Study" (PDF). FilmL.A. Feature Film Study. Retrieved July 3, 2017.
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  11. ^ Fleming, Mike (May 30, 2013). "Melissa Leo Joining Denzel Washington In 'The Equalizer'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved June 1, 2013.
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  13. ^ "Filming Locations". IMDB. Retrieved June 15, 2015.
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  15. ^ "Varese Sarabande to Release Harry Gregson-Williams' 'The Equalizer' Score". July 31, 2014. Retrieved September 27, 2014.
  16. ^ "Hear Eminem and Sia's Triumphant New Duet 'Guts Over Fear'". Rolling stone. Retrieved June 26, 2014.
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  30. ^ "TOP OPENING WEEKENDS BY MONTH". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved September 28, 2014.
  31. ^ Scott Bowles (September 27, 2014). "Sunday Box Office: 'The Equalizer' Nabs September Records; 'Maze Runner,' 'Boxtrolls' Take Youth Vote". Retrieved September 28, 2014.
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  34. ^ Pamela McClintock (September 29, 2014). "International Box Office: 'Maze Runner' Beats 'Equalizer'; 'Lucy' Nears $400M Globally". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 29, 2014.
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  37. ^ Brent Lang (September 28, 2014). "'The Maze Runner' Tops Foreign Box Office for Second Week". Variety. Retrieved September 29, 2014.
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  42. ^ "High Def Digest | Blu-ray and Games News and Reviews in High Definition". Retrieved May 14, 2018.
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External linksEdit