First Hit: Although the plot premise was slightly forced, I loved how Denzel Washington makes sure he’s on the right side of things.
I had difficulty understanding why the couple were murdered at the beginning of this film. Although the film attempts to provide enough information to make it understandable, for me, something was missing. It needed a bit of context in some way.
However, the subsequent murders by a small group of men, doing cleanup, had more clarity.
Meanwhile, we watch Robert McCall (Washington) living his life as a Lyft driver occasionally, using his killing skills to right a wrong to a friend or a societal criminal activity.
The strongest statement to McCall’s effectiveness as a do-gooder was when he rectifies the wrong done to a call girl by a group of young rich entitled men. After taking the woman to a hospital, he goes back to the apartment and pulverizes the group of men for their actions towards the woman.
His closest friend and former boss, from his active government days, Susan Plummer (Melissa Leo), investigates the initial couple’s murder and because she’s so good, the band of men responsible for the initial killing, decide to kill her as well.
This puts McCall over the line and how he’s out for complete revenge. When he discovers the responsible party for the killings are former men he worked with, he ensures they know he’ll come after them, and that his only sadness will be he can kill them only once.
There is a side story about his wife’s death and his inability to go back to where they lived together.
However, it is his guidance towards Miles Whittaker (Ashton Sanders) that really brings out his deep seated patience, caring and mentorship. Miles is torn between wanting to join a gang to earn some coin for himself and his mama and his ability to draw. His brother died by a bullet and in some ways he wants to get revenge. The other, more sensitive side of him, wants to honor his talent for drawing and painting. The film does take time to explore this side as well.
Washington is perfect as the thoughtful, competent killer. His ability to break into a smile, then look someone down with a glare that exudes death is perfect for this role. Makes me want to hope for yet, another episode. Leo is perfect as the no nonsense former leader of a secret government assassination team. Sanders was wonderful as the young man trying to find his way. Pedro Pascal (playing Dave York) as McCall’s old running mate when they worked for the government together. Thought he carried his role with perfectly. Richard Wenk and Michael Sloan wrote the script. For me, the beginning wasn’t set up well enough with the killing of the couple, but other than this, I liked how it unfolded. Antoine Fuqua directed this film. What didn’t work well for me, besides the opening couple’s murder sequence, was the having the final war between McCall and the clean-up team be shot in a storm. For me it didn’t add to the tense ending only made it harder to follow.
Overall: I love Denzel in this role and therefore I enjoyed the film.