A man with a mysterious past, a lethal skill set, and a taste for justice stumbles upon some very unethical wrongdoing and decides to fight back, taking the law into his own hands. Sound familiar? It should. This isn’t a film that bursts forth with new ideas, but it is a slick and stylish one that is undeniably cool. Have we seen heroic, slow-motion walks in the rain that spell disaster for foreign bad guys before? Of course we have. That doesn’t make it kick any less ass this time around. Denzel’s gonna Denzel.
What I actually appreciated the most here was the deliberate pace to establish the story and characters. There was no need to rush into showing precisely what McCall is capable of, as it is far more important to show his reluctance to become his old self again, whoever that old self was, exactly. While some may have found it slow for a bit, I found it refreshing. I liked his interactions with his coworkers at Home Mart, as he tried desperately to embody the everyman he wished to live as, while we know something that those colleagues do not.
Of course, when his true nature comes roaring back out (although still played with that patented Denzel quiet cool), some of those viewpoints may change thanks to his methods, but we know, as they do, that the cause is just. And in a way, these people are left to ponder how long they inhabited the same space as a near-superhero without having a clue. I really enjoyed how well Fuqua balanced showing his exact, often brutal methods with how often they were kept in the dark, leaving you to imagine for yourself. The audience is often just as much in the dark regarding the nature of McCall as those that he hunts down.
It’s got style, flare, a great lead, and (un)healthy doses of violence doled out to those who deserve it most. What’s not to love?!