EDITOR’S NOTE: DVDs reviewed in this column will be available this week.
PICKS OF THE WEEK
“The Equalizer” (R) — A quiet, peaceful man in his over-the-hill years harbors a dark past that will come out when he goes on a killing spree to save a young woman.
It’s a plot you’ve heard a billion times, but now it’s Denzel Washington’s turn. Robert McCall (Washington) works at the hardware store, dines alone and reads classic novels that your high-school English teacher would approve of.
McCall notices that a regular, Teri (Chloe Grace-Moretz), is being abused by the Russian mobsters who have her. McCall goes on a super-violent Righteous Revenge Rampage using skills he learned when he was a special-forces guy (of course.)
Director Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day” and “Shooter”) takes his time, but really dials up the smash-and-shoot once things get going. McCall mostly works with guns and fists, but barbed wire and broken glass also get involved.
However you feel about the red stuff, the movie has more thrills than other recent movies with this exact plot.
“Elsa & Fred” (PG-13) — Christopher Plummer plays Fred, a widower just going through the motions until the clock runs out. His morose attitude is understandable, as he’s been deposited in a small apartment by his daughter and her husband, both seeking a favor.
Fred’s hopeless grouchiness begins to melt in the presence of Elsa (Shirley MacLaine). She’s a little older than him, but she has dreams in her heart and a relentlessly positive — if somewhat bubble-headed — demeanor. They both have a lot left ahead of them.
While it treads a well-worn path, the leads bring a considerable amount of charm to the proceedings. MacLaine’s frenetic enthusiasm for life and lying could be a little grating without Plummer’s precisely calibrated curmudgeon.