Ranking Denzel Washington’s 10 Greatest Scenes in The Equalizer Trilogy

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By Wanda

Denzel Washington, known primarily for his dramatic roles, has also taken on action movie roles throughout his career, including films like Virtuosity, Safe House, and The Book of Eli. In The Equalizer franchise, he found a recurring character in Robert McCall, which is a rarity in his filmography. Despite not being commonly associated with action stars, Washington has had some notable action scenes in The Equalizer movies.

In The Equalizer franchise, Denzel Washington not only enjoys action scenes and memorable one-liners but also gets the opportunity for compelling dramatic performances. He shares the screen with talented actors like Melissa Leo, Chloe Grace Moretz, and Pedro Pascal. The films strike a balance between character development for McCall and intense action sequences. As Denzel Washington seems to have concluded his role as McCall with The Equalizer 3, it’s time to revisit his 10 greatest standout moments from the franchise.

10. What do you see when you look at me? – The Equalizer

Denzel Washington‘s roles in The Equalizer franchise have provided both action and drama, featuring talented co-stars like Melissa Leo, Chloe Grace Moretz, and Pedro Pascal. The films blend character development with intense action, and as Washington’s run as McCall likely concludes with The Equalizer 3, it’s a good time to reflect on his standout moments.

In The Equalizer, McCall exhibits patience, confronting a Russian mafia enforcer, Teddy, with a warning during a restaurant encounter. He shares a poignant story of a troubled Russian orphan adopted by a caring scholar, ultimately suggesting that, despite Teddy’s darkness, McCall can be even more formidable.

9. Robert nails ’em – The Equalizer

In the film The Equalizer, the story begins with the retired character McCall working in a hardware store called Home Mart. When he needs a place to confront the antagonist, Teddy, and his henchmen, he chooses the hardware store as the setting. The climax of the film features an action sequence reminiscent of Home Alone, in which McCall systematically takes down the henchmen, ultimately using a nail gun to defeat Teddy. This sequence showcases Denzel Washington‘s ability to convey a lethal, almost silent determination in his role as McCall.

8. McCall’s collection of 100 books – The Equalizer

A scene from the first film revolves around McCall’s collection of 100 books, which were his wife’s works. Unable to sleep, he visits an all-night diner to read, here he meets and wins over Moretz’s Teri/Alina, a young prostitute for the Russian mafia.

In this scene, the two characters bond as they discuss their aspirations: he shares his book plan, and she expresses her desire to become a singer. This heartwarming moment highlights their connection and sheds light on why McCall is willing to confront the mafia later in the story when Alina is assaulted and hospitalized.

7. The time-out scene – The Equalizer

In the initial action sequence of The Equalizer, McCall attempts to negotiate with the Russian mafia to secure Alina’s release after she is brutally beaten. When they scoff at his offer and insult him, McCall switches to a second plan. He meticulously plans and visualizes using improvised weapons such as a corkscrew and a glass. With remarkable precision, he systematically eliminates every threat in the room, though it takes slightly longer than he had anticipated. Nevertheless, the outcome demonstrates McCall’s deadly effectiveness.

6. Spilling the tea – The Equalizer 2 opening scene

There are two kinds of pain in the world, the pain that hurts… and the pain that alters,

In the opening scene of The Equalizer 2, McCall travels to Istanbul to rescue a young girl from her abusive father. He confronts the father, who had taken the child as a form of punishment against the mother. McCall dispatches the father’s henchmen when they attack, but he offers the father a chance to make amends. In a rational and compassionate move, McCall insists that the child be returned to her mother, allowing the father to do the right thing and rectify his harmful actions.

5. The hurricane scene – The Equalizer 2

One of the standout action sequences in The Equalizer 2 occurs in the film’s conclusion. In this gripping setpiece, McCall takes his treacherous former partner and friend, York played by Pedro Pascal, to his hometown for a final confrontation. What adds a unique twist to the scene is that they find themselves in the midst of a full-blown hurricane, creating a dynamic and intense finale. McCall once again showcases his resourcefulness by using the chaotic surroundings to his advantage during this climactic showdown.

4. Why not you? – The Equalizer 2

In The Equalizer 2, there is a subplot where McCall forms a friendship with a teenager named Miles, who aspires to be an artist. McCall takes on a mentorship role in Miles’ life. When McCall discovers that a local gang has targeted Miles, coercing him into committing an initiation murder, he takes decisive action to intervene and protect the young boy from this dangerous situation. This subplot underscores McCall‘s commitment to helping those in need and his role as a protector in the story.

In a tense scene, McCall storms into the apartment building forcefully rescues Miles at gunpoint, and confronts him angrily about his involvement with the gang and his willingness to become a killer. McCall doesn’t hold back, berating Miles for his naivety and asserting that he’s too young to understand the gravity of death. Through his passionate words and actions, McCall succeeds in winning over Miles, who is left bewildered by McCall’s unwavering determination to save him.

Why not you?

McCall responded.

3. 9 seconds – The Equalizer 3

The Equalizer 3 opens with its signature style, featuring McCall’s quiet yet menacing demeanor as he calculates and executes the elimination of his adversaries. In this installment, the film starts with McCall having already carried out a brutal offscreen massacre within an Italian mafia stronghold. When the mafia boss and his henchmen confront him, McCall’s actions escalate to an even more brutal and unforgiving level. He inflicts non-fatal gunshot wounds on his target and subjects him to torture before ultimately delivering the fatal blow.

Denzel Washington‘s performance in this sequence is chilling, emphasizing McCall’s transformation into a darker and more relentless character in the third installment of the franchise. This opening scene sets the tone for a film where McCall is pushed to his limits and showcases his willingness to go to extreme measures to achieve his goals.

2. The median nerve scene – The Equalizer 3

Another trademark of the franchise is McCall‘s ability to be quietly threatening in a restaurant setting, and this characteristic is revisited in the third entry. When the mafia thug Marco is intimidating locals, he crosses paths with McCall, who locks eyes with him. As Marco starts to issue threats, McCall takes swift action by grabbing Marco’s hand and applying pressure to the median nerve, causing Marco excruciating pain. McCall even mentions that if he presses the nerve hard enough, Marco could lose control of his bodily functions.

In a polite yet ominous manner, McCall urges Marco and his associates to relocate their operations to another town. However, when they disregard his warning, it leads to a violent confrontation. This scene showcases McCall’s ability to handle tense situations with a combination of calculated intimidation and deadly skills, which is a recurring element in the franchise.

1. The Take Me scene – The Equalizer 3

In a pivotal and highly emotional scene in The Equalizer 3, McCall faces a formidable adversary in Vincent, the aggressive brother of the man he had previously killed. Vincent arrives in town and threatens the locals to reveal the person responsible for his brother’s death. Left with little choice, McCall voluntarily turns himself in, with the only condition that they execute him away from the public eye.

However, Vincent refuses even this request and intends to publicly shoot McCall as a warning to others. In this deeply moving moment, McCall opens up and bares his soul, demonstrating the extent of his devotion to protecting his newfound friends. He is willing to sacrifice himself to save them. This scene showcases a vulnerable and emotionally charged side of McCall, making it one of the standout moments in The Equalizer series as he grapples with his own mortality and the lengths he is willing to go to for the sake of others.