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Denzel saves the day again – “The Equalizer 3”

Updated: Nov 19, 2023


Denzel Washington’s third round as Robert McCall, a former CIA assassin turned vigilante, who tries to save a small Italian town from the Camorra mafia.

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4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray & Digital copy; 2023; R for strong bloody violence and some language; Digital via Amazon Prime Video (4K), Apple TV (iTunes) (4K), Movies Anywhere (4K), Vudu (4K), YouTube (4K)

Best extra: “Blood Brothers: The Collaboration” featurette (Disc & Digital)

FROM THE get-go you’ll notice “The Equalizer 3” is more cinematic this go-around compared to the first two installments in the ultra-violent franchise starring 68-year-old Denzel Washington.

What’s the reason?

(1) Robert McCall left a high body count at the vineyard of Sicilian farmer Lorenzo Vitale (Bruno Bilotta), who had spent a decade on Interpol’s most wanted list. (2-4) McCall seems to be in a tough spot, but he turns the tables on Vitale’s men and the farmer.


Clearly, it’s the handy work of three-time Oscar-winning cinematographer Robert Richardson (“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” “Hugo,” “The Aviator” & “JFK”) who gives the intense action and beautiful Amalfi coastline a painterly film noir quality.

Richardson and director Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day,” “Magnificent Seven”) captured the action with the excellent 4.6K ARRI ALEXA digital cameras (2.39:1 aspect ratio) mounted with Angenieux Optimo lenses. All digital footage was mastered in TRUE 4K. The majority of the effects were made in camera except for a massive car bomb explosion. Richardson used a custom lens and, with his dramatic lighting and desaturated color palette, the HDR Dolby Vision and HDR10 grading set the mood perfectly. Peak HDR brightness hits 1047 nits, averaging 333 nits, while the video bitrate ranges from the upper 40 Megabits per second range to 80 Mbps.

The enclosed Blu-ray, also sourced from the 4K master, looks very good with only a slight reduction in resolution. The picture is brighter overall in most scenes.

(1) McCall survives a gunshot wound to his back, thanks to Dr. Enzo Arisio (Remo Girone). (2) His recovery involved walking the endless steps in the town of Atrani, Italy built on a rocky hillside overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea. (3) Police officer Gio Bonucci (Eugenio Mastrandrea) who found the injured McCall returns his car keys. (4) McCall makes an anonymous phone call to the CIA and talks to finance agent Emma Collins (Dakota Fanning) about the Sicilian vineyard and the deadly synthetic drugs from Syria.


The eight-channel Dolby Atmos soundtrack packs quite a punch, thundering through all speakers from the front, sides, rears, and heights with effects and music cues from the orchestrated and electronic score by composer Marcelo Zarvos (“Wonder,” “Fences”). No doubt your subwoofer will get a good blast during the car bomb.


Loosely based on the 1980s TV series starring Edward Woodward, the character Robert McCall, a former CIA assassin turned vigilante, lives in Boston during the first two films, which earned nearly $400 million worldwide. This time, Fuqua, Denzel, and the studio felt the timing was right to take McCall to an international locale. For decades Denzel and his family had visited Italy for their summer vacations, so he already knew the language, culture, and food, and loved the people. “He just feels right there,” Fuqua told the Associated Press.

The Blu-ray and digital houses the five featurettes. “We definitely have a shorthand, having worked together before. He knows how I work. I know how he works,” Denzel says in “Blood Brothers: The Collaboration.” The two have joined forces on five films going back to 2001. The actor is constantly changing up his performance during a scene. “I have no idea what I’m gonna do from take to take, from moment to moment,” he says. Denzel always delivers what’s in the script during the first two takes, but after that, “He goes off book saying something so the other actor has to think on their feet – and then the fireworks start,” says co-producer Jason Blumenthal.

Postcards from Atrani, Italy

Measuring only .012 square miles, Atrani is one of Italy’s smallest yet most enchanting villages. Its cobblestone streets and winding pathways lead visitors to various quaint eateries offering delicious seafood dishes as well as views of the Tyrrhenian Sea.

An enjoyable addition is co-star Dakota Fanning who plays CIA financial agent Emma Collins. Denzel and Fanning worked together nearly 20 years ago, when she played 10-year-old Lupita Ramos, in Tony Scott’s action thriller “Man on Fire.” Denzel played former CIA operative John Creasy, hired to protect the Ramos family in kidnap-crazed Mexico City. “I think people connect with McCall because he sees something that isn’t right, and it might take him on a big journey, but the root cause of why he does what he does is providing justice to the everyday person,” Fanning says in the featurette, “Robert McCall: A Man of the People.” Fuqua says McCall, in this story, is more like the character Shane of the classic 1950s western. “Do you hang up the gun, or do you do something about it?”


McCall is surrounded by mangled bodies from mafiosos, using a vineyard as a front to smuggle deadly synthetic drugs from Syria. He’s nearly killed and ends up near a small town on Italy’s picturesque Amalfi Coast. Police officer Gio Bonucci (Eugenio Mastrandrea) finds him slumped over in his rental car and takes him to a local doctor. Enzo Arisio (Remo Girone) pulls the .22 caliber bullet out of his back and, after a short recovery McCall – who calls himself Roberto – settles down in his adopted home. The 10th-century The Church of Santa Maria del Bando becomes a character, overlooking the town from Mount Aureo. Accessing the white stone church with its huge cross on top is a brutal trek up 700 steps.

McCall soon discovers the Naples Camorra mafia led by two brothers Vincent (Andrea Scarduzio) and Marco Quaranta (Andrea Dodero), who have big plans for the small port and begin terrorizing local businesses. We know how this is going to end!

With dynamic, gorgeous visuals and a rocking Atmos soundtrack, “The Equalizer 3” is a worthy demo disc for your 4K setup and a mesmerizing action thriller. This team always delivers.

— Bill Kelley III, High-Def Watch producer

(1) The Naples Camorra mafia led by two brothers Vincent (Andrea Scarduzio) and Marco Quaranta (Andrea Dodero) force families out of an apartment complex. (2&3) At the Sicilian vineyard the CIA and the Italian authorities find millions of dollars in cash and the deadly synthetic drugs. (4) Vincent meets his brother Marco after going to mass. “It’s time, little brother, to help me with bigger issues.” (5) Fish market owner Angelo (Daniele Perrone) finds his business firebombed.



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