Alex Siskin

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The Equalizer Review


OK

Little more than a paint-by-numbers action thriller, it's anyone's guess why the filmmakers have bothered to make a connection with the 1980s TV series of the same name. Because this film bears almost no resemblance to it. Instead, this is a reunion of Denzel Washington and Antoine Fuqua, who last collaborated on the Oscar-winning Training Day. And since it's packed with brutal violence and questionable morality, that's clearly where this movie's roots truly lie.

Washington stars as Robert, a meek shelf-stacker at a DIY warehouse store in Boston. He can't sleep at night, so he heads to the local diner to read classic novels. That's where he meets Teri (Chloe Grace Moretz), a teen hooker who is having problems with her psychotic Russian pimp (David Meunier). Ever so quietly, and clearly relying on some external source of income, Robert goes about helping Teri secure a free future. But when he offers to settle her debts, the pimp and his thugs just laugh at him. So Robert mercilessly kills them all, drawing on his secret past as a black-ops agent. The problem is that this puts Robert at odds with the top Russian boss Teddy (Marton Csokas), who heads to Boston to get even.

In standard action movie tradition, Robert works his way right through the entire Russian mob, along the way cleaning up Boston's corrupt police force before the requisite final confrontation. His only distraction is a brief visit to his old CIA boss (Melissa Leo) and her husband (Bill Pullman) for a bit of moral support and added starry cameo value. Yes, there isn't much about this movie that doesn't feel concocted for the box office, which means that the story is both achingly predictable and littered with gaping plot-holes. And with Washington in the focal role, everyone else fades into the woodwork. Moretz is excellent but badly underused, while Csokas is never given much to do with his one-note villain.

Continue reading: The Equalizer Review

Master of Disguise Review


Unbearable
Once the chief late-night headliner on NBC's Saturday Night Live, Dana Carvey has been reduced to appearing in films emblazoned with the phrase "An Adam Sandler Production." I wondered what it must be like as Sandler's name floated across the screen to pick up your paychecks from the clown who sang songs about food and watched you become a star. Sad. Master of Disguise is just another loop in Dana Carvey's shame spiral; a path that begins right where Wayne's World 2 ends.

Dana Carvey is Pistachio Disguisey (clever!), the last in a long line of "masters of disguise." Charged with using their powers of disguise for good, they have for centuries protected the world from evil, using only their wits and an incredible gift for visual deception. But Pistachio's parents have been kidnapped. To save them, he must at last learn the true history of his family, and discover the powers of disguise he holds inside.

Continue reading: Master of Disguise Review

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