I missed this one while it was out on general release, but caught it over the weekend when I had a few hours to kill and a gift voucher burning a hole in my iTunes account. I didn’t see the first time round because it’s a remake; and it’s the worst kind of remake: a film based on an old TV series.
That never sounds good. But it did have a few things going for it, all of them being Denzel Washington, so I thought, why not?
If you’re English or American or just really old then you might remember the television series (late eighties, early nineties maybe?) starring Edward Woodward as Robert McCall, a retired CIA agent who randomly helps folk when they’re unfortunate enough to cross paths with street gangs, foreign dictatorships or the Mafia.
Wind forward a decade or so, and Mr Washington ably picks up the mantle. Robert McCall is now an autistic ex-CIA hitman with computer-like martial arts and the ability to turn anything in Home Depot into weapon (yes, that is a nail gun he’s holding). The premise is pretty much the same: he’s helping out a young prostitute who’s been attacked and left in intensive care by the Russian mob.
And it’s a good film. Really good. In fact, I think this is my favourite Denzel outing since Training Day. I don’t usually think I can be surprised by these types of thrillers, but the script is workable, the plot is not to frenetic or over-the-top. What I love about it is the tension; it’s really edge-of-your-seat stuff, especially in the few moments just before McCall loses it.
It’s very dark, a tad gory, but brilliantly executed (like most of the supporting cast). Considering this is a remake of an old TV show, I have to say I’m pleasantly surprised.
Nine out of ten.