Talking Back at the Screen: The Equalizer
We get a lot of dumb lines masquerading as wisdom in “The Equalizer,” directed by Antoine Fuqua (“Olympus Has Fallen”) and written by Richard Wenk (“The Expendables 2”), which gives the movie an air of a bloody Bill Cosby action movie, if you can imagine such a beast. “You gotta be who you are in this world, no matter what,” spoken to a child prostitute, is one of those lines.
Here's another. It had me talking back at the screen. In my head, I mean. I don't talk out loud at movies. (Although I might groan occasionally.)
Robert McCall (Denzel) is a former super-espionage agent trying to live out the rest of his life with a quiet warehouse job. It's a friendly place, and he's friendly there, and he tries to help an overweight Hispanic worker, Ralphie (Johnny Skourtis), become the security guard he always wanted to be. So he keeps him on his diet and trains him on weekends. He has him pull tires at a local park. (This exercise will come in handy later in the movie.) But Ralphie keeps giving up on himself.
Here's the line and here's what I answered back:
Denzel: Hey, don't doubt yourself. Doubt kills.
Me: So does certainty.
I was thinking specifically of the certainty, the hubris, of the Bush adminstration, and all of the people who died as a result. They were certain it made sense to demote Richard Clarke, terrorism czar, to a deputy position, and 9/11 happened. Then they were certain it made sense to invade Iraq and take out Saddam Hussein. They could nation-build in a matter of months—they were certain of that—and get out cleanly. And their certainy killed. It goes on killing, even after they've long left the scene.
Of course, we go to the movies for the very certainty someone like Denzel projects. That's part of the wish-fulfillment-fantasy bargain. We're fearful and doubtful. He's brave and certain, and in the end he'll save the day. It's great to see up on the screen. If only it stayed there.
Certainty, about to do some killing.