Way back, a million years ago, The Equalizer and John Wick came out at more or less the same time. I saw them within days of each other and so I couldn’t help but make comparisons between the two.
John Wick was a heavily stylized music video. Keanu Reeves kills 77 people in John Wick. Of these 77 people, we know the names of… 7 of them? Maybe? (I think it’s closer to 4 or 5.) More than that, about half of the 70 unnamed people who got shot each had about a second of screen time before they ran up to John Wick to get shot in the head. It was a gorgeous movie and terribly silly for how violent it was.
The Equalizer, by comparison, took its time with both Denzel Washington and the criminals he dealt with. Denzel talks to the bad guy boss surrounded by his henchmen. We see the bad guys have conversations with each other about the conversation Denzel is having with them. We watch everybody talk beforehand and we see that Denzel Washington gives them an opportunity to do the right thing. Sometimes, the people he talks to do the right thing.
Other times, they fail to do the right thing.
After the fight is over (a fight that takes mere seconds) he then sits down and gives a short lecture to the guy in charge as he is bleeding out on the floor. “You should have done the right thing.” The bad guy boss bleeds out. Denzel Washington leaves.
This dynamic is repeated in the sequels. In John Wick 2, John Wick kills 128 people. How many of these people have names? I think that saying “8 of them are named characters” would be an overstatement. And, much like in the first movie, more than half of the people who are killed have about a second of screen time. They run up, they get shot, they fall down.
The emotional distance is *HUGE* in the John Wicks. We know absolutely *NOTHING* about the vast majority of the bodies on the ground. They were hired muscle? I guess? But we don’t know if they were punch-clock bad guys whose boss’s boss didn’t even know their names or if they would share meals and conversation with the people they’re protecting or what. They were on screen just long enough to get shot in the head.
Well, in the Equalizer 2 (finally out on Blu-Ray), they also take the first movie and increase it for the sequel, but what also gets turned up is the intimacy. The conversations take place. When the bad guy gets got, he knows *EXACTLY* why it happened. More importantly, *YOU* know exactly why it happened.
In the John Wicks, when you see 5 people get shot in a row, the main communication on the part of the movie seems to be something like “whoa, cool, this is awesome”.
In the Equalizers, when you see 5 people get… well, it’s never as simple as being shot, is it? When you see these five people get… let’s say “dispatched”… the main communication seems to be “this could have been avoided, had they done the right thing.”
Personally, I prefer the Equalizers.
So… what are you reading and/or watching?
(Featured image is “Scales of Justice” by DonkeyHotey. Used under a creative commons license.)