The Equalizer has a fairly low-key build up. We follow Denzel around, meet his friends, see that he’s a respected mentor at his job and we see him break down Old Man And The Sea for a Russian high-class escort at the diner he frequents when he cannot sleep (and, apparently, he is regularly plagued with not being able to sleep).
Things come to a head. He gives his enemies one last chance to do the right thing. They fail to do the right thing. We see that this guy, this respected mentor, this avid reader, this man who cannot sleep… well, he’s also a bad, bad man.
John Wick, by contrast, is a guy. He’s a guy who is married… wait, no, his wife is dying… 3, 2, 1… now he’s a widower. Oh, we see that she got him a dog. So he’s a widower with a dog. Oooh, who has an awesome car. So he’s driving around with his dog in his awesome car. Then… his car gets stolen and his dog gets killed. At this point in the movie, people start yelling “DO YOU KNOW WHO JOHN WICK IS???” between scenes of John Wick shooting tons and tons and tons of people in delightfully choreographed scenes.
The Equalizer gives us the movie version of a fully realized character (HE READS!) while John Wick gives us a walking wound. Sure, John Wick has our sympathy and we know that the bad guys he’s shooting are people who have it coming… but there’s no reason to *LIKE* him.
I mean, if you enjoy a good “shoot-em-up”, you can’t go wrong with either movie. John Wick will have you saying things that critique the craft of the scene you just watched while The Equalizer will have you too caught up in caring about what’s going on that you won’t even notice how they’re manipulating you until well after the movie ends.
So… what are you reading and/or watching?