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‘The Equalizer 3’ Returns Denzel Washington As The McCall To Call In A Pinch

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Even though the comparison doesn’t set the standard very high, “The Equalizer 3” might be the greatest in this Denzel Washington movie series since it embraces an old western concept instead of paying homage to its TV roots, namely “Shane.” As a result, the “final chapter” has a little more dramatic weight, but it still provides enough of equalizing for those who are eager for it.

The third film from Washington, Antoine Fuqua, and Richard Wenk has a certain sweetness to it, which is helped in part by the fact that the actor and Dakota Fanning are reunited almost 20 years after he killed a lot of people on her behalf in “Man on Fire.”

In Italy, where the Mafia conveniently provides plenty of merciless human cannon fodder to zero out in his drive to balance the scales of justice, Washington’s world-weary former assassin Robert McCall is practicing his helping-those-in-need style of vigilantism.

With an opening sequence that more than justifies the movie’s R rating in the first three minutes, “Equalizer 3” basically starts in the middle. McCall is left hurt and in need of a place to rest after that confrontation, which happens to be in a charming beach village where the locals welcome him, a feeling that he eventually returns.

McCall starts to consider putting down his weapons and finding a wife, much like Shane, Alan Ladd’s gunfighter in the latter days of their age. Unfortunately, the Mafia has plans for the village and McCall must decide whether to intervene. It’s not a particularly difficult decision in terms of movies, but they go through the motions.

As written, there’s more to it than that, beginning with the fallout from the aforementioned opening brawl and a tip that McCall gives to a young CIA agent (Fanning), assisting her in progressively connecting the crime scene to a broader and more sinister scheme.

Fuqua and Wenk deftly weave together the various threads given the basic structure’s simplicity—with Washington projecting quiet strength as the last person any thinking criminal should mess with, joining Liam Neeson’s “Taken” trilogy in representing the AARP-eligible crowd among effective killing machines. Even if the huge crime boss (Andrea Scarduzio) and overarching danger are nearly entirely generic, the impact gives the film greater emotional resonance.

Although “The Equalizer 3″—which comes nine years after the first film and includes a sequel and a CBS adaptation starring Queen Latifah—might not entirely convince as a “final” anything, it does have the advantage of feeling like it comes to a nice conclusion for Robert McCall, all things being equal.

In US cinemas, “The Equalizer 3” debuts on September 1. R is the rating.

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