In the third and final film of the trilogy, it becomes clear that while working on behalf of the people who need him has provided Robert McCall with some solace, it still means that he is a man whose life is defined by violence – and that cannot last.
“He’s dealing with his demons,” says Washington, who reprises one of his signature roles. “It’s very different than the first two films; I think it’s much more personal. This movie is about his salvation and letting go of his past.”
“He’s going through an internal battle,” says Antoine Fuqua, who returns to direct the third film in the trilogy and fifth overall with Washington. “He’s helping those who can’t help themselves, handing out justice his way to evil people. But he’s questioning himself. Has he gone too far? Is he enjoying it too much? Is he still doing it for the right reasons?”
Producers Todd Black and Jason Blumenthal say that the reason that The Equalizer franchise has resonated so strongly with audiences is that it echoes with who Washington is in real life – minus the violence. “Robert McCall is able to take care of good people who can’t take care of themselves,” they say. “Denzel, as a human being, really believes in mission-oriented goals… I think it’s the same thing here with Robert McCall – he uses his powers to serve good. He, as both Denzel and as Robert McCall, are going to make sure that the good people are protected. The fun of it is tracking them down – he gives them all an opportunity to stop what they’re doing, and they don’t, and so he has to become the Equalizer.”
The trouble for McCall, says Washington, is that he’s become a little too enamored by that idea – to his peril. “He has gotten addicted to this so-called ‘justice’ and crossed the line into unnecessary violence,” adds Washington. “He pays a price. And he has to deal with himself, and rely on others, and break out of his patterns, or he will die. Through that, hopefully, he finds peace.”
“What I wanted to explore was a man on the verge,” Fuqua continues. “McCall is on the verge of a question – what else does he have to live for? His wife is gone; Susan Plummer (Melissa Leo) is gone. It seems like he does the right thing, but he’s constantly punished. And so I think he’s on the verge, and he has to think about what he’s going to do with his life.”
The Equalizer 3 brings Robert McCall abroad for the first time. “The plan was always that the third film would go overseas,” says screenwriter Richard Wenk. “I had never been to Italy, but I knew that Denzel spends a lot of time there. So, during the pandemic, I did a lot of research. I thought that Italy would be the place that McCall might end up finding a place for himself.”
The Equalizer 3, also starring Dakota Fanning, opens in Philippine cinemas September 13.
**The interviews for this article were done before the writers and actors strikes.**
Image credits: Columbia Pictures