Director Antoine Fuqua and Denzel Washington, who teamed up together to great financial and critical success with Training Day, are back with their latest film, The Equalizer. Though loosely based on the action show of the same name from the ‘80s, the film’s producer Todd Black admits that it was mostly the title that struck him when deciding to adapt it to a feature film.
“I think it's a great title, especially for the world we're living in today,” Black tells Film Journal International. “There's so much injustice going on, from the little man dealing with the gas company to the big guy at the banks. Rich or poor, we all in our own way wish we had an equalizer. So the title and the meaning behind it were what struck me; we took the concept and the title [from the show]. The rest we made our own."
To make the movie appealing to Washington, Black knew that the film would have to be a slow burning character piece that only turns to action in its later half. “I knew from working with [Washington] in the past that we had to have a complex character who would have contradictions, because Denzel likes contradictions. I knew it had to have consistency, though, and alternate between loud and quiet moments,” Black explains.
“Nowadays movies show so much—they want to hit the audience upside the head before they even get their first bites of popcorn," director Antoine Fuqua adds. "I think it's nice for people to spend time with a character and think, 'Where am I going with this guy? He's interesting, I want to watch him.' That sort of thing is always tricky, balancing the peace with the violence. I think back to older movies like Shane; they didn't have a bunch of explosions right away—they took their time. Shane didn't pick up a gun until the last scene of the movie!"
“The audience always has more patience than you think; they stick with the movie because they're entertained and interested,” Fuqua continues. “That's why Denzel always puts character first. It's like music—you want the song to take its time and get into the groove before the horns and drums kick in."
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