However, despite coming out right in what always seemed likely to be the middle of the strike—Labor Day weekend—Washington and director Antoine Fuqua’s The Equalizer 3 sat as confidently and unhurried as Washington’s Robert McCall sits at those aforementioned cafes. There’s a reason for this.
While there is a certain justifiable logic to Warner Bros. deciding they need Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya to promote Dune 2 (all while the studio apparently has written off the strike being concluded by early October), or certainly Luca Guadagnino’s tiny indie Challengers likewise feeling it must feature Zendaya on late night talk shows in order to generate awareness of that film’s existence (hence it moving to next spring), Denzel and the audience he courts with the Equalizer flicks is operating at a different, more deliberate frequency.
Like a lot of actors of a certain age—your Liam Nessons, Sean Penns, or Kevin Costners—Denzel Washington has found new life in his advancing years as an action movie hero in dirty, mean, and often R-rated actioners obsessed with revenge. He just tends to do them with more debonair flair than most. Be that as it may, a movie like The Equalizer 3 is reliant on two things: older-skewing audiences recognizing Denzel on the poster and MLB TV spots, and those same potential viewers being tickled to see an old favorite go on another killing spree.
The audience in question will probably not be seeing funny junket interview games going viral on TikTok or YouTube, nor will they really need to know how much fun Washington had shooting that movie at the tip of the Italian boot—just look at that million-wattage smile up on the screen!
While Sony Pictures, which is releasing The Equalizer 3, almost certainly would’ve loved Washington promoting the film on the late night talk shows that still attract an audience who can remember when Washington was trading one-liners with Leno or Letterman 30 years ago, it really isn’t necessary for a film that itself was always intended to release during Labor Day weekend, which in the U.S. is historically a slower moviegoing frame due to it marking the cultural end of summer for most families as school starts the following Tuesday.
But then, The Equalizer 3 isn’t a family movie, is it? It’s a happily gruesome revenge rampage which is fairly interchangeable with the last two Equalizer movies Washington and Fuqua partnered on, or for that matter Neeson’s A Walk Through the Tombstones and Run All Night. In Equalizer 3, Washington’s Robert McCall is trying to find peace and semi-retirement again, only now in Italy (and after the aforementioned kill-a-thon in a nearby mobbed up Sicilian vineyard). Alas, bad men doing bad things won’t let him be and, shockingly, there’s a mafia element in the old country that ruins McCall’s calm. Who knew? So it’s time to do what audiences have enjoyed watching Washington do for decades.