First Hit: Satisfying film with powerful acting by Denzel Washington in a story that has a slow burn buildup to the inevitable.
Robert McCall (Washington) is a quiet mentor to the people he’s around at the home building supply store where he works. He rarely sleeps at night, reads a lot, and has very specific behavior patterns that he uses to keep his life intact.
From the beginning you have the sense that McCall has a history, one of which he’s not proud, one where he was one of the best, and he’s sad without his wife. He shows up to his peers at work by helping them eat right and supports them to live their dreams. He also rights the wrongs to his friends and he does this with cool calculation.
You see early on he’s an expert at killing and making things right. He gets into a conflict with the Russian mob through late night café meetings with Teri (Chloe Grace Moretz) who wants to be a singer but works as a prostitute to some hardened Russians. When they hurt her, McCall becomes the man who will right this wrong all the way to the top.
His main protagonist Teddy (Marton Csokas) is good for this film as he is as self-assured as McCall is competent. They are a good matchup and the way this film delivers this adversarial relationship is great.
Washington is so clearly perfect in this role. I cannot think of another actor that could have pulled this off as well as he did. Moretz is excellent as the girl who portrays both protective strength and childlike vulnerability. Marton Csokas was perfect as the Russian mob enforcer and guy that fixes problems for the head of the gang. David Harbour (as corrupt policeman, Masters) does a good job of being a hard ass corrupt jerk. Richard Wenk and Michael Sloan wrote a very strong script that allowed us to know Washington’s character not through words but through actions. Antoine Fuqua did an excellent job of directing this action film. My only criticism of this film from a director’s point of view is that it was a little long.
Overall: Although long, I enjoyed and was totally engaged with this film.