Welcome to Dan Glaser’s Movie Podcast: The ONLY Podcast You Have To Read. In each episode I go with a different comedian to see a movie and then we head to the closest coffee shop to chat about it over the internet. Yes it is a podcast, you just have to read it instead of listen to it. As always, you can catch up on all the other episodes here. Even better, consider supporting the podcast by subscribing!
Dave and I met up at the conveniently located, intimately appointed, powerfully smelling Regal Union Square to see a movie. At first, we walked into the wrong screening, but soon we rectified the situation by walking into the correct screening. Crisis averted, we did our sworn duty and stayed through the entire film. Afterwards we made our way to Brooklyn Roasting Company on 23rd St between 5th and 6th Ave to eat (Dave got some weird hard boiled eggs), drink (we both got cold brews), and be merry (we both enjoyed spending time together).
Dan: Hi Dave! Thank you so much for joining me today on Dan Glaser's Movie Podcast: The ONLY Podcast You Have To Read. We just saw the Equalizer 2 AKA The Sequelizer 1 and before we begin discussing the most important movie of the day, I just have one question: What I look like to you, Jackie Chan?
Dave: WHAT I LOOK LIKE TO YOU, JACKIE CHAN to you as well, thank you so much for having me and thank you for spending the last 16 hours watching Equalizerer.
Dan: You make a good point! For those of you not familiar with The Equalizer cinematic universe (like you and I were up until 1pm today), I guess they are a series of movies starring Denzel Washington wherein he mopes around for 12+ hours helping strangers and sometimes equalizing bad guys to death. I think your daughter will be starting 5th grade by the time you get home tonight. (she was in diapers this morning)
Dave: I feel at a slight disadvantage, having not seen Equalizer 1, but the filmmakers were kind enough to make several thousand allusions to the first film including redescribing many events that I assume occurred. I need to start by saying I love Denzel and I love Old Men Getting Revenge action movies.
Dan: I talked about this on the walk over, but I actually really enjoy watching / reading movies / books that are sequels without having watched / read the originals. It gives me some extra activities to burn excess brain energy on, trying as you say, to infer what had occurred previously..
Dave: Training Day ALMOST got poster space in my dorm, but someone gave me a free Kill Bill poster so. Having said that...this movie is bad.
Dan: Yeah, Old Men Killing People is not even a subgenre at this point it is a legit genre. It would have its own aisle at blockbuster. It should not only have a category on netflix it should have its own streaming VOD service.
Dan: CrunchyRoll. PunchyRoll?
Dave: CrunchyRoll and PunchyRoll sound like two non-existent rapper names that Denzel uses when he's making fun of what young black kids are into in this movie. A VERY strong black republican undercurrent in this film.
Dan: He kept calling that kid "Yummy" right? Did I mishear?
Dave: God as my witness you did not mishear.
Dan: Having not seen Equalizer 1, I want to take some time to guess what happened in it. You may begin.
Dave: Denzel had a wife. That wife died. I assume she was killed, as a revenge film would dictate, but also she could have died of unrelated natural causes, as the freeform, melancholy, and completely bonkers scripting of the Equalizer universe could have dictated. Also, Denzel was army guy.
Dan: I agree. I assume that in the first movie he is already a post-battle civilian, or at the very least, an AGENCY guy rather than a TROOP.
I think the hierarchy of who we respect the most is TROOP > COP > AGENCY GUY.
So Denzel really went down a few notches and probably worked at a desk like a TEACHER (the least respectable).
Dave: BUT there is a very poignant LYFT car scene in E2 where he gives a ride to a TROOP and shows RESPECT.
Dan: Yes it's great. Denzel RESPECTS the TROOPS. Conversely, the BAD GUYS who WERE TROOPS but are now AGENCY GUYS shoot a COP. I will prepare a flow chart for later.
The only thing higher than TROOP on the RESPECT chart would be HORSE TROOP like in the 9/11 horse movie.
Dave: More on that later, for now, Denzel used to live on a beach with his wife who has passed. Also, a bomb blew up in E1 that covered Denzel's fake death, as in E2 he is fake dead.
Dan: Yes. To your point, he definitely had a wife, and she definitely died / was killed, which precipitated Denzel to stop being polite and start getting real...equalizing. It had to have happened early in the movie as an inciting incident in the First Act, or, if it was like this movie, about an hour and 20 minutes into it.
Dave: 15 LYFT rides in…
It is important to note at this time that in E2 Denz is a LYFT driver and he LOVES it.
Dan: Oh yeah we'll get to LYFT stuff, it's terrYFTic. Should we begin? How does this movie start? Keep in mind, we walked into the wrong screening. Sat down. And watched a bunch of ex military types playing Fortnite on Martha's Vineyard for about 5 minutes. I thought it was a trailer for Predators.
Dave: And honestly, it did nothing to harm my viewing of the film. After 45 minutes I thought anything could happen in this Dadaist attempt at freeform story telling. I thought it was a trailer for a Mark Wahlberg TROOP movie, honestly.
Dan: You stood up and saluted.
Dave: You did not.
Dan: I took a knee.
We did see an actual trailer for Venom, which looks Ghost Rider level bad. I turned to you and asked what that Josh Brolin movie was where he was an Evil (?) Cowboy with Megan Fox. Venom looked like that.
Dave: Jonah Hex. I knew it off the top of my head and I have no explanation as to why.
Okay, E2 starts as every good action film starts... with an action scene set piece. I didn't mention this to you, but I can tell from the first action sequence if one of these movies is going to be good or bad.
Dan: Okay, so yes. EQ2 starts on a, as the lower third tells us, "Turkish Railway". They had a fairly interesting shot on the side of the moving train looking in on Denzel, disguised as a “Muslim Man”, reading Ta-Nehisi Coates. I was tricked into thinking maybe this will be interesting. (Because of the camera angle, not because of the taqiyah and fake spirit gum beard)
Dave: The beard concerned me.
Dan: It was Team America quality.
Dave: It was not a good omen for the quality to come. Denzel sees a small girl. The girl has a father who leaves the car. Denzel with a beard follows the man into another car. A very long and somehow untense scene follows where D confronts the man about kidnapping his own daughter from his American ex-wife. It takes more explanation than it should. This begins the first of many dialogue exchanges that are several words too long:
"If a man kidnapped his daughter, could I find that man in Turkey..." and then the line should end, but instead continues "or on his way to Turkey?"
Dan: Yeah I love that shit. This movie had action movie lines that just kept going.
"That could be very dangerous.....for you."
Dave: LOL YES. "You should not look for this man because it would be dangerous" … "for you."
Dan: When The Equalizer confronts the Turkish man and his Turkish henchmen in the bar car, I still had hopes for this movie. Or more specifically, I wasn't super concerned yet because the action part hadn't arrived, which I assumed would be the reason for the season.
Dave: Denzel then starts a watch. I'm a little confused on this device and hoping E1 offers some clarity? Does D have a time limit on how quickly he must kill someone?
Dan: Oh yeah that smart watch. He also has magic eye Sherlock Holmes (RDJ version) future vision? That was another weird device that they kept using.
Before the Equalizer equalizes, two things happen.
1) He starts a timer on his watch.
2) We zoom in on his eyes and he sees what the Equalizees are going to do?
Or like, where they are? Even if he isn't looking?
Dave: This movie made me realize Denz might have a very slight glaucoma and I hope he gets that checked out??
Dan: Anyway he throws hot tea at one bad guy, smashes another bad guy, stabs one. Whatever. Generic stuff.
Dave: It feels like the Equalvision should tell you about danger from the guys, like, who's pulling a knife, who's sneaking up behind you, but sometimes it shows who's shuffling cards or sniffing?
Dan: Is it crazy that most of the violence in this movie is reserved for like, randos and women victims?
Dave: There are only 4 action scenes in entire 127hr run of this film. It is crazy, only ONE action scene is tied in with the plot.
Dan: It's truly wild. The long drawn out scenes between spurts of Equalizing are unbearable. No idea why they exist. And yes, most of the Equalizing is to randos. Including a hotel room full of Wall St Colin Josts, which we will get to.
Dave: Anyway, he generically dispatches the Turks, the kidnapping Turk actually has NO resolution, and the little girl is dropped off at the embassy in Boston, which is where this movie takes place.
Dan: Wait this movie is in Boston? I thought it was New York / DC / Brussels? Doesn't Denzel drive over the Tappan Zee at one point? He definitely teleports his Chevy Malibu to DC a few times but I really thought he was in New York?
Dave: Naw it was super duper Boston.
Dan: Wow. And you think you know a guy. This gives a whole new layer to this movie.
Dave: You've never been? Treat yourself, it's a city full of history.
Dan: Okay, they were not Wall St Colin Josts, they were John Hancock Tower Colin Josts.
Dave: Anyway, the little girl is reunited on the 27th floor of an office building, with a scene including shots of the mom getting out of the cab, running through the lobby, taking the elevator, asking reception where to go, running down 4 hallways, and finally hugging the daughter while a guy who I thought but now no longer think was in the first movie just say "We have no idea who did this."
Dan: Ya no clue who that lady was, but Denzel helped her get her daughter back so we know, for sure, that he is a Good Guy.
Dave: No clue? She sells books! We find that out later but it is very unimportant to the plot.
Dan: That’s right! She is the lady who runs the bookstore that Denzel likes to reserve books from. Support Local!bOkay great, it is about this time that we find out that Denzel is a LYFT driver. And Jesus Christ is he ever.
Dave: How did a local boston book store owner end up marrying a Turkish mobster? Not THAT'S a movie!
Here is a list of people Denzel gives LYFT rides to that get their own dialogue and scene:
Dan: 1. One of his "regulars" (?) Sammy the Holocaust survivor
Dave: 2. Young woman accepted into school
3. Curly haired man on his way to work for Boston Legal
4. TROOP going to first tour in Iraq
5. Alcoholic trying not to drink
6. Woman who has been drugged and raped
7. Man attempting to kill Denzel
Dan: ONE of these is part of the plot. Here are my notes:
2. Veterinary School, specifically (I think)
3. He looked like young Malcolm Gladwell
4. He had beautiful eyelashes
Dave: Old Malcolm Gladwell kind of looks like Young Malcolm Gladwell.
Dan: 5. He sweatily clutched a bible and looked like he got his pizza at Comet Ping Pong IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN
6. Her name was AMY
7. He was bad at his job
Dave: Okay, let's check in on the Colin Jost rape scene, shall we?
Dan: Yes great. Denzel accepts a Lyft pickup at a hotel in BOSTON and a youngish dude dumps a girl in his car.
Dave: Denzel sees the young woman's BRA...and he knows.
Dan:Yes that is the first thing they teach you when you become a TROOP. Denzel looks at her and can TELL she was in a bad way so he goes up to...the Hotel Room that he somehow knew all the bad guys were in.
It's a bunch of Faneuil Hall Colin Josts having a coke party. (Note, the main dude looks like Colin Jost, this is NOT a drag on ALL WHITE MEN)
And Denzel um...kills a bunch of them? He snaps a guy's neck right?
Dave: Yeah, but I think they show the guy kind of react like "Oh this was just a disabling neck snap, not a killing one."
Dan: He really really does violence on these guys.
Dave: Don't forget the premise of his arrival. That the credit card has been declined so he comes to their door, which does not alarm them at all.
Dan: Oh yeah hahahaha. Classic move. Your credit card was declined so I came to your hotel room. He cuts one Colin's forehead with his own black card. Damn. Equalizer 1, Colin 1. Score Equalized.
Dave: That was so close to being cool but this movie manages to create very confusing action, probably focused around not being able to shoot action scenes as well because Denzel is not young.
Dan: Yeah, the Old Man Killing People Genre has a fatal, inherent flaw.It has to sell the idea that these MEN are powerful fighting MACHINES, and it mostly does that by implicitly reminding us of other times we've seen this exact movie. He can kill people because in other movies that is also what happens.
Dave: I mean, the key is to rely on these old men not being showy, by knowing the most efficient, unflashy way to kill a man
Dan: They also do it effortlessly, which, I mean, yeah you aren't gonna get a 65 year old to run and jump around and sweat. What he look like to you, Jackie Chan?
Dave: Let's do the work to explain that quote.
Dan: Ooh boy. Counter offer:
Let's, in no particular order, cover all the other things that happen in the hour plus long "First Act," including establishing the relationship with Miles, which will lead us to that quote, eventually. This can include actual plot relevant events, as well as just things that happen, like for example Sammy the Holocaust Survivor and his painting. Or Fatima the gardening woman who gets her shit wrecked. Denzel you see, has given up the life of an Equalizer to drive a Lyft and basically be A Dog's Purpose: Human Edition, going around helping randos.
Dave: Yes, there are many half ideas tossed about. Sammy has a painting he wants to get back from the Holocaust, but it turns out the painting is symbolic of his desire to be reunited with his sister. There is absolutely no tie in to the events of film in this story, literally or symbolically. It's a real annoying hanger on of a story
Dan: We also have not talked AT ALL about the murder suicide assassination in Brussels, the Agent Lady, Dave, or Bill Pullman.
Dave: I'm discussing things in the order of importance that the film presented them to me.
Dan: Sammy also says "There's a storm coming." For the rest of the movie, there is always a radio talking about a "storm" that is "moving slowly."
Dave: Yes, the entire movie teases a VERY SLOW actual storm coming that ultimately does no damage. It is the most apt metaphor in the movie.
Dan: Yes, a big obvious storm that everyone can see coming.
Dave: Fatima is a woman who lives in Denzel's apartment building. Her garden is destroyed and a mural her brother painted is vandalized by a gang who writes in graffiti, I shit you not "GANG GANG."
Dan: Yes some Bad Kids sprayed GANG GANG. Denzel is cleaning the Banksy off the wall when a youth, Miles, walks by. Did you recognize Miles from Moonlight?
Dave: Miles is a black youth in the model of all black youths. He has a gift for art, but is drawn in by the street. Denzel gives him a very hard lecture about how white people are not to blame, but rather low pants and rap music.
....... I haven't seen Moonlight.
Dan: Ohhhh, it's better than this movie, if you can believe it.
Dave: Miles was a good actor.
Dan: Miles was good yes, and he is good in Moonlight! And yeah Denzel is certainly A VERSION of a father figure. He tells you to pull your pants up and stop listening to rap music. He is like Cosby but he STOPS rapes.
Dave: That's how Denzel describes himself.
Dan: Denzel tries to keep Miles off the corners throughout this movie and honestly it's the only real relationship in this film. It's also completely 100% incidental to all of the plot and action.
Dave: Maybe I'll check out this Moonlight thing, but I don't want to have to get rid of my LALA LAND WAS ROBBED shirts.
In another one of those too-many-words moments Denzel and Miles have a definitive scene where Miles is going to paint instead of do sell drug violence, and yet Denzel calls him back to say "stay off that corner!" Btw, they were in Brookline Mass, there are no corners there, just relatives of the Kennedys.
Dan: Maybe he walks 3 blocks to Allston.
Dave: Strange that this film equates "painting" to all forms of painting. Miles is an artist, so Denzel encourages this talent by having him paint his kitchen
Dan: Yah, and we'll get back to this family drama from time to time but first there is a wild subplot in Brussels to talk about. Keep in mind we are...40 minutes into the movie at this point. And like, nothing is happening.
Dave: I think that subplot is supposed to be the real plot.
Dan: We were sold a trailer of Equalizing and we are getting A Very Special Episode of Taxi Cab Confessions. I told you this in the theater and I meant it, I just want 2 hours of Denzel Lyfting around boston Equalizing Bros.
Dave: DID YOU NOTICE THAT WHEN DENZEL'S FRIEND LEFT HE PUT HER IN A CAB? A NOD TO "TRADITION"?
Dan: Wow #TBT. But fine, this thing in Brussels. A guy we don't care about comes home to a house we've never seen and a crying wife we've never met.
Dave: The man speaks French but this is Germany.
Dan: Yes Germany, the capital of Brussels. Anyway there are some bad guys there. They shoot his wife. Then they have him suicide. They say that he is "just a name on a piece of paper." Nothing personal monsieur!
Dave: They make a point of saying the son is about to get home and to show pictures of the young boy.
Dan: The ex-TROOP Gun For Hire is obviously an action movie mainstay, and let me just say these guys sucked ass at it. I mean, they were GOOD at killing people, but bad at being entertaining in a movie.
Dave: One of the few things this movie does well is shock you with brutality. It is sad that it is pointless. Vanilla doesn't cover the performance of that not-Simon Pegg-looking mother fucker.
Dan: I kept hoping it would be Simon Pegg. Especially from the side or behind. And the big guy was Duff from the cake show.
Dave: MAKE SIMON PEGG A BAD GUY.
Dan: Okay great, last but not least, Agent Lady visits Denzel and pees in his house.
Dave: Denz implies he could smell her urine, then says JK.
Dan: Classic rapport.
Dave: This happened. The exact line is "You ate asparagus vinaigrette with a touch of soy sauce, just kidding, I smelled your perfume." It deserves to be documented.
Dan: Yeah the first draft was, "I smelled your pee from the minute I passed Fenway Park."
This is the scene were we learn that Denzel's wife died, in case him slowly and sadly fingering then kissing his wedding ring didn't give it away.
Dave: He really fingers the shit out of that ring. Was he married to the ring?
Dan: Before she leaves, Agent Lady asks Denzel if he will "Go home?" or back to work or something? Who knows / cares.
Dave: She gives him some BEAN TOWN BEAN SOUP. Spoons go to their mouths a lot but it is very clear they are not eating. Also, they leave 1 inch of soup in the tupperware like psychopaths. Who cares about any of this.
Dan: I would say it's definitely what this beer startup guy sitting to your right in this coffee place is saying: "perception IS reality."
Dave: These beer startup people are turning me into a socialist oops jk I already am one but now I am more of one.
Dan: Okay, up next we are in some Big House and Agent Lady is facetiming with DAVE. We also find out that her husband is a criminally underutilized Bill Pullman.
Dave: DAVE is Oberin Martel from GoT and in a huge spoiler to Kingsman 2, the double crossing bad guy in that film.
Dan: Wow! This is what I was typing: "DAVE is the Red Viper aka Oberyn Martell aka The Cowboy Hat Guy From Kingsmen 2."
Dave: Wow lets go with your correct spelling of Oberrinn Martelli.
Dan: We learn that the rando is Brussels was..."One of ours" so Agent Lady and Dave gotta go check it out.
Dave: Yeah, I was waiting for a huge payoff plot wise on Brussels guy. There is none. He was called a "loose end." Loose end of what? The word "loose end" is used often in this film with absolutely no explanation.
Dan: The loose ends thing is the generic catch all that is used to explain every random thing the bad guys do. Kill Denzel's friend? Loose End. Rob a liquor store? Loose End. Steal penguins from the Boston Zoo?
Also I'm sure the movie cuts back to more Denzel bullshit driving Sammy around at this point but I don't care.
Dave: Yeah this is actually where drunk guy happens. OH. We forgot a LYFT passenger.
Dan: OH THE KIDS. At one point Denzel is...driving 3 kids...to school? To the dentist? Who knows. Is this a thing that happens? Parents get their kids a LYFT to take them places? Seems like you are asking for a Turkish Gangster to kidnap them.
Dave: It happens immediately before my FAVORITE physical action of the movie. Denzel goes to the bookstore of the mother whose child he saved at the beginning of the movie, and he reaches out to grab the railing 30 feet from the railing.
Dan: Wait. Oh my god. Can we recreate this?
Great. Yes, imagine that buy walking down the street and then going into a bookstore. It was a CHOICE. And that is what you pay for when you get Denzel.
Dave: It was the most suspenseful part of the movie. I thought for sure he was going to shake someone's hand from far away. The railing?? I did NOT see that coming.
Dan: I thought he was like waving to someone he knew.
Dave: Almost as surprising as when he put a gun to Miles' head, and then almost kissed him.
Dan: I actually like when this movie lets him make Choices. He is very compelling, when he goes weird. His Equalizer face and mode are very the opposite. It is like he is saying, “I am so good at and bored with killing you that I will not be entertaining while I do it."
Dave: Yeah, there a few rare moments where they let Denzel just roll in front of a camera and it is fun. His face while DAVE admits to betraying him is pretty good tho.
Dan: Wow spoilers! Yes, Pedro Pascal is a bad guy and that reveal is one of the best scenes in the movie, but first! Back to Brussels! Dave and Agent Lady go to the scene of the crime. At the dinner table, she notices "Ehhhhhhh, some powder", according to the local cop.
Dave: I mean, feel free to mention the powder, but it was pretty much unimportant. It's latex from a glove, btw. That's thrown away well after it is important. Some guys that love soccer follow the lady into her hotel room, attack her, say they are there for money. She fights back and a door shuts, leaving the scene inconclusive to its end until you see Bill Pullman at the wake.
Dan: "GOT AN EXTRA THOUSAND DOLLARS HERE FOR THE CORNHOLES."
"PROLLY NOT GONNA USE THOSE THE SEASON'S ALMOST DONE."
More verbatim excerpts from our capitalist neighbors.
Dave: "I'm hesitant to use children in our marketing. It's a good idea but I don't know how people will receive it."
Dan: It is a known thing that I love writing at this particular coffee shop because it is Startup Central. I have no idea why, I think there must be a WeWork style thing in this building. Every time I'm here it's incredible, conversation wise. I have written 2 full pilots in this room and I get more inspired from the horrible patrons than any workshop or class or writer's retreat.
Dave: So much energy and love and pain expended into convincing people to purchase an IPA. I think sometimes about the collective efforts of humans, and how all of it is spent pushing Sisyphean rocks around without making anyone's lives better or happier, and it breaks my heart .
Dan: So the two soccer hooligans, they do a lot of violence on Agent Lady. It's another shocking scene that feels weird? Like, from a storytelling point of view: these are rando tweakers, no other characters are witnessing this. Why do they shoot this scene like this? I am really asking. Denzel doesn’t even ever Equalize these guys.
Dave: Hundreds of people worked on making Equalizer 2. People dedicated their lives to it for at least a short while. Denzel woke up every day and thought "Today I am making Equalizer 2." For someone, it is the highlight of their career, and you and I probably paid more attention to it than anyone that didn't work on it ever will.
Dan: Yeah. As has been mentioned in at least 2 other episodes, seeing all these bad movies has made me appreciate other things beyond the writing (bad) and acting (fine) in a lot of films. There were a number of good shots in this movie. Perhaps just as many pointless, too long, or generally BAD shots, but still.
Dave: The upside down shot outside the apartment was questionable, as was the Go-Pro on the gun shot, but yes. Overall a sturdy film. Shot well.
Dan: That...upside down shot... had to have a been a mistake.
Dave: I don't think so, the composition denoted intention.
Dan: Well either way, Agent Lady dead. I want to say one thing. We are still technically in the First Act, but also like over an hour in. Denzel hasn't really done shit in this movie. No one has. Agent Lady dying is the closest thing to an inciting incident but it doesn’t really precipitate any action.
Dave: This movie defies act structure while still miraculously maintaining coherence.
Dan:Yes and like, not in a purposeful, artful way. I do not think they are trying to subvert or play with any storytelling concepts. Man Equalizes Man. A tale as old as time.
Dave: Denzel goes to Bill Pullman, and Bill gives Denz his wife's wedding ring, in a moment that is my second favorite physical action. Which we have recreated:
Dan: Yes just like that. Very good.
Dave: So Denz steals a chip from Agent Lady's phone that gives him access to everything she knew but also the cameras in the hotel and crime scene photos from her own death which would not be on her phone. He watches footage of the elevator ride with the soccer attacker guys, Agent Lady, and DAVE, and discovers something that the audience is not let in on. Denz surprises DAVE, who is revealed to have been Denz's partner. He is mad at Denz for faking his death, and Denz tells DAVE what he has learned: that she didn't push her floor button, the soccer guys did, so soccer guys must have known to attack her.
I was POSITIVE he was going to confront DAVE here, as DAVE was clearly the reason for this, but the movie plays dumb about DAVE for another 7 hours.
Dan: Ya the chip in that phone (her literal SIM card) was really useful. The real hero is, as usual, the telecom companies who track our every action.
Dave: Magical some would say.
Dan: Freakin DAVE man. So, as I said, Denzel now has motivation to Equalize someone(s) more interesting than Boston University Lacrosse team.
Dave: Yeah, but then he doesn't.
Dan: Maybe he will go to Brussels and find out who hired Halliburton to kill Frencho? Maybe he will go to DC and see if there is corruption at the AGENCY, leaking info on these deep cover Agents?
But actually, as the movie progresses, no none of this. Stuff just kinda happens and bad guys start to come after Denzel himself because, Loose Ends. We can detour for a bit on Miles and his gang friends if you want. Since the movie does want.
Dave: Yeah, that's what Denzel does next, he shoe horns the "Pay Your Taxes and Tend Your Lawn" message to the youth. He goes to GANG GANG's house and beats up some GANG GANG boys.
Dan: He scolds Miles in the lobby and really gets to be Denzel for once.
Dave: At some point it is mentioned that Miles’ brother who was a boxer (unnecessary detail) was killed (not very necessary) so now Miles is with the GANG GANG boys who tell him to shoot at stuff even though Miles has explicitly mentioned earlier in the film that his brothers death had nothing to do with gang violence. Denzel gets REAL Denzel and holds a gun to his own head for Miles to shoot him (no reason Miles would shoot him) then he takes the gun and holds it Miles' head (still no reason) and then they hug and leave.
Dan: It's all very pointless: the GANG GANG boys never show up again, they don’t antagonize Miles for leaving and / or bringing this COP AGENT TROOP into their lair. They clearly know where he lives, but I guess he is now out the game.
I need to add one thing. Before the GANG GANG showdown, Miles and Denzel are clearly hitting it off. Oh I mean before and after. Miles comes to Denzel's house, to pay him some change from buying paint. Denzel hired Miles to paint over the graffiti earlier and he is finally done. Maybe this literally happened earlier but who knows, I don't care.
Miles enters Denzel's apartment, and Denzel offers him a drink. Would you like water or iced tea? Miles responds, with that phrase we all know and love:
"What I look like to you, Jackie Chan?"
I AM BAFFLED.
Dan: Great. Next they are in the kitchen cooking and that is not addressed in any way. Does Jackie Chan like iced tea? Siri, does Jackie Chan like iced tea?
Dave: It is the most mysterious element of this film.
Dan: Is the implication that he is Chinese and the Chinese famously drink tea? That is the closest I could come to getting that line.
Dave: Eagerly, I awaited an answer, but Denzel hands Miles an empty glass. Okay, where is this going??? Finally, in 100 steps too many, miles fills the glass in the sink.
If Jackie Chan does like water, Miles looks like Jackie Chan.
If Jackie Chan likes Iced Tea, Miles does not look like Jackie Chan.
As Miles does not look like Jackie Chan, it is safe to conclude, Jackie Chan likes iced tea.
Dan: Therefore, all Jackies are Chans.
This scene also does a Rush Hour shoutout, effectively: "Don't ever touch a black man's pot [radio], boy!" Denzel slaps Miles' hand away as he attempts to see what's cookin.
Dave: from an improv standpoint, the number of transaction scenes between Miles and Denzel is a disappointment .
Dan: The only other relevant part of this scene, is Denzel hiring Miles to paint a crack in his kitchen wall. Relevant because it gives a reason for Miles to be in his kitchen for no reason later when the bad guys show up.
Dave: So Denzel has another LYFT scene but this guy is dangerous. Guy says he is going to airport for his daughter’s birthday but Denz doesn't trust him probably because the guy is STARING at the back of Denz’s head the entire time. Denz goes the wrong way to Logan International Airport in a fun easter egg to fans of Boston's highway system and the guy doesn't notice, so Denz calls him out and the guy takes out a giant kitchen knife.
Dan: I remember this scene because i thought to myself: Logan? I guess Denzel moved to Boston! This was one of the worst car fight scenes I can recall. And there are a lot of car fight scenes, out there in the world.
Dave: It is a kitchen knife. It is that. He tries to stab Denz, fails, takes out a gun which he did not take out before, and instead Denz shoots him.
Dan:The RAID 2 has one of the best, by the way. That is, fights that take place inside a car.
Dave: I need to see RAID 1 and 2.
Dan:Yes you do. Oh jeez this scene also concludes with...Denzel setting his LYFT on fire. I think we are supposed to care about his car, based on the way this shot is framed and the music that is playing.
This was one of a few times in this movie where I wondered what Denzel's status was, legally. Like, is he ALLOWED to do all this stuff? Stuff means Equalizing which means Killing. Earlier, when he kills all the Colins in the hotel, he tells one of the Colins to "call 911 and tell them everything that happened" I assume that includes telling them about the LYFT driver that just Equalized a room full of civilians to death? I assume Lyft has his contact info, to allow him to be a paid contractor.
Anyway he sets a car on fire by a bridge, which also seems illegal, is my point.
Dave: I maintain those bros lived.
Dan: The car def did not live.
Dave: I can't believe LYFT signed off on that.
Dan: I think it would have been fun if his car had the big pink moustache.
Dave: Denzel doesn't use guns?
Dan: Oh yeah, good question. That's another one of those action movie tropes that is so fucked out at this point. "I don't use guns."
Dave: The gun he shot the guy in the car with was that guy’s own gun, and all other guns he had he took off of people.
Dan: But also, he has a gun? In his house? Every homeowner in this movie has a gun. And renter.
Dave: I thought that was a gun he took from GANG GANG.
Dan: I mean, i think the best I can give you is that Denzel "Doesn't shoot people to death with guns that he purchased and has licensed in his own name."
Dave: Longer to say but clearly the reality. Okay, so the guy in the car had a phone that Denz hacks, revealing DAVE to be the betrayer even though DAVE was the only person alive who knew about Denz to send the killer in the first place, so Denz goes to DAVE'S house in a scene that is supposed to make you think DAVE is in danger from the same enemy that tried to attack Denz, even though anyone with a brain knows DAVE is bad news.
Dan: I think this scene TECHNICALLY starts the 3rd act, but also should have been the last scene in the movie. Denzel confronts DAVE at his suburban home. They should fight. The movie should end. It's so much longer.
Dave: DAVE has two daughters and a wife, and the movie does create the tension that they may die because, again, the only thing this movie does right is horrific violence on innocent people.
Dan: The movie definitely tries to pull a switcheroo with this setup and I guess it actually works for a few minutes. Good on ya, movie! But then, no it's Denzel and he and Dave have a hilarious heart to heart.
Why did you do this Dave? he asks.
Because you died! What choice did I have?
That is his rationale for being a bad guy now. So. Here we go. Dave is still an AGENT. But also a Merc for hire, who kills people on a list. We don’t know who hired him for this job or why, but that's okay. Because, as DAVE puts it, "There is no sin. No Virtue. Just shit people do." Also, "One day you're an asset, the next you're an afterthought."
Denzel and Dave are sitting at the table saying things like this to each other for about 5 minutes. Just cramming all of these non explanations back to back.
Dave: To be clear, DAVE kept his job, but was no longer in the field, which is why he Mercs on the side.
Dan: Yeah he didn’t want to give up his passion (killing randos) but had to get a 9 to 5 to help feed his kids. We've all been there Dave. (I am speaking to both you Dave and movie Dave)
Dave: Thank you I have been there. Dave also goes out of his way to make it clear that the person ordering the killing DOES NOT MATTER so it is 100% dropped.
Dan: Ya good sweep under the rug of that plot point. That Loose End if you will.
Dave: Brussels guy DID have a hit ordered on him, he WAS part of the agency and we will never know why.
Dan: Anyway like I said this should be the last scene in the movie but instead it's much longer. Denzel and Dave go outside and all the other bad boys are waiting in the cul-de-sac. Denzel says he is gonna kill them all and the only sad thing will be that he can only do it once. He doesn't do that though, instead he just leaves.
And like, we have to fast forward this right? This movie is so long. Half the bad guys go to kill....Bill Pullman, who isn’t even in this movie. Denzel is there to escape with him, great.
The other two bad guys go to Denzel's house, where Miles is there and they kidnap him. Great. These things both take time but I'm done with details. Ready for the climax?
Dave: Man, that kidnapping Miles scene was about 23 minutes I mean shit, this movie hates it's viewing audience. Let's climax.
Dan: Well, as you know, a storm is coming. It was also crazy because we had, 5 hours earlier, walked into another screening of this movie. Not only had the scene we caught then not appeared yet, but nothing remotely like it had either. I was so sad to know we had at least enough time left in the movie for them to get to a big grey city place with snipers.
Denzel takes Bill Pullman (WHO NEVER SHOWS UP AGAIN IN THE MOVIE) and drives to some Boston bay area type island town.
Dave: I was checking my phone a lot at this point, unable to believe how long the movie had been, terrified that I could not anticipate how much longer it would be.
Dan: He tells DAVE "you know where to find me" or some such. All the cops are saying that the island is being evacuated, but Denzel pulls a badge (?) and they let him on. I guess he was a COP after all or maybe this is a stolen valor sitch.
Dave: "This Island is under arrest."
Dan:There is a big nasty storm and yes the entire island is empty. Cool. Bad guys pull in next and straight up shoot this small town cop in the chest.
Dave: Yeah dude, you would think murdering a cop would be bad practice for clandestine mercs but shit, they don't even think about it.
Dan: While the bad guys are driving through town, Dave gives them a tour. "That's his wife's bakery," he says to one guy.
Dave: HE SAID THAT FOR REAL.
Dan: Show don't tell, movie! Have the camera tilt up and we see a sign that says "His Wife's Bakery."
Dave: Flashback. Rolls coming out of the oven "Taste these, they're from my bakery!"
Dan: "Honey, I decided to not use any sugar. The secret ingredient...is EQUAL."
Dave: Then air the entirety of Equalizer 1, then go back to the guys in the car.
Dan: So the next 15-30 minutes are spent with these TOUGH MUDDERS all running around this island fighting. Its dumb. Denzel kills them all, including one guy with a...harpoon gun? DAVE is the designated survivor, ready for the final showdown.
Dave: Yes the bad guys split up in the order of the number of lines they have spoken, and Denz proceeds to kill them.
Dan: Dave gets whipped in the face with a loose wire by the way, and that's how he falls down. He was, up until then, in a little sniper’s perch.
Dave: On top of a tower? Have you ever seen a tower like that?
DanIt was a weird tower. Not a lighthouse, but similar, more brutalist. Yeah so up on da roof, Denzel kills him like 4 times. He stabs him in the heart, then severs his spine, then throws him onto some rocks then drowns him.
Dave: Yeah, in an unsurprisngly unfun fight.
Dan: Equalizer 4. Dave 4. Score Equalized.
Dave: Don't forget pokes his eye out.
Dan: Oh right yes pokes one eye. Call back to GoT. And then Jesus the movie still has a bunch of scenes left. I have done about 20 of these episodes Dave [exactly 20, as of this post going live! -ed.], and this is the most impatient I have ever been, trying to recap a movie. I usually revel in the minutiae of recounting all the stupid details.
Dave: You didn't mention that at one point DAVE threatens to kill Miles who is in the trunk of a car, by shooting that car with a sniper rifle from 100s of yards away during a windstorm.
Dan: Oh yeah, that was good and pointless. He, after threatening to shoot this kid a few times, eventually stops threatening to shoot him?
Dave: He is going to shoot Miles in the car, but Denzel shoots out the tire of the car, throwing DAVE'S shot off, so DAVE gives up on it.
Dan: He really just gives up on it.
Dave: Real actual fear gripped my heart as Miles and Denzel entered Denz’s old home to patch Miles up and I realized that I still didn't know how much longer this movie would be.
Dan: Yeah after Dave gets sent to super Hell, we have a bunch of scenes where we see all the characters from the movie and how their shit gets resolved in completely irrelevant, unconnected ways.
Dave: Miles looked at Denz and said "Who are you?" and I legit thought this could have been the START of the movie.
Dan: Hahahaha. After Agent Lady got killed, which again, is like an hour in, I turned to you and said everything up until then could have been the cold open. Literally do all this in 5 minutes.
Dave: Yes yes yes this movie should not have been over 90 minutes and should have had 4 more action scenes.
Dan: Okay so in the end, like truly everyone's life is good now and it has NOTHING TO DO with what happened in the movie. Sammy gets...reunited with his sister? Okay.
Dave: I feel like this discussion has become the Equalizer 2 of this podcast.
Dan: Fatima has...a new garden? Sure. And a new mural? Okay. Miles is on a bus going to art school and a cute girl asks him about his drawings. Cool.
Dan: The Troop from the LYFT in the beginning kills Bin Laden Jr.
The vet school girl revives Barbaro.
Dave: MILES SAYS HE IS MAKING A "SUPERHERO" AND THE GIRL ASKS "WHAT POWERS" AND HE SAYS "HE KNOWS STUFF BEFORE YOU DO, AND HAS SECRET ROOMS AND MAGIC LOCKS.”
Dan: Son of Gladwell starts a podcast about infamous heists throughout history.
Dave: If I was that girl I would be like "you are a moron" and turned back to my friends.
Dan: "That's dumb, does he at least use guns?"
Dave: Shes says CAN HE FLY? And miles says NO.
Dan: "Does he have a living wife?"
Dave: NAW MAN MAGIC LOCKS. Here's a fun and subtle racist thing in this movie.
Dan: Can’t wait to hear this.
Dave: Miles, pre meeting Denz, listens to a lot of "rap" music, but in the kitchen, post GANG GANG experience, he is listening to rock music, indicating his change into a more gentile, less street version of himself. It sucked!
Dan: Yes I literally went wide eyed during that scene. I guess the real Equalizer, is prejudice. The movie is over now right?
Dave: The movie never ends, there's always someone needing a LYFT.
Dan: I’m sad because I have a lot of actual critical thought about the filmmaking, and how and where this movie fits into the action movie genre, but I am exhausted. I wonder if Uber paid Sony for them to use LYFT in this thing.
Dave: I am dying because that feels like what must have happened.
Dan: We did make it through though. Anything we missed in our retelling? Any points you didn’t get to talk about?
Dave: I agree though, the story was exhausting and I too have critical thoughts. Why was a fisheye lens used the entire film?
Dan: Okay so. I noticed this very early and couldn't tell if it was a style choice from the DP or just bad projection at the theatre. Parallel vertical lines at the edges were very bowed and bent. It is, as you say, as though the whole film was shot with a very mild fisheye distortion. It sucked ass.
Dave: I think it might be to create a sense of paranoia? It failed. Also, this needed a much better edit. Most shots were held for way too long.
Dan: Oh yes. Another weird choice was these long panning shots of city skylines and locations, AFTER scenes end. These like, ANTI establishing shots, if that makes sense. People will finish a conversation then we jib up and around and see some trees and brownstones for 10 seconds.
Dave: The final shot, which travels away from Denz as he stands on his old porch, travels through his den, and then his dining room. It traveled past a row of green apples, which earlier in the movie he had been seen washing. I thought it must harken back to something from E1, but could not fathom what. I thought that tracking shot could have kept going out of the house and down the street and out of the town and I would not have been surprised.
Dan: Drone shot baby. Into a google earth wide shot. Past the moon, then Mars. We see the rings of Saturn. Past the Kuiper Belt. The Oort Cloud. And the swirling void coalesces into…
A tiny marble. Tossed by an alien.
Dave: Finding out MIB and Equalizer shared a universe would not surprise me.
Dan: 🎵Here comes The Equalizer 🎵
Dave: MIB and 21 Jump Street were planning a crossover that never happened. Okay, that's my time.
Dan: I guess for me, my final thought is that there are a few interesting movies here. 3 at least, none of which are really done well.
1) Denzel the Lyft driver Equalizes for the People, but gets caught up in a Big Crime thing. Think Collateral but Jamie Foxx is the Vince character. That's a fun movie.
Dave: That would have been a great movie.
Dan: 2) Denzel is Mark Wahlberg in Shooter, the best of the best but in retirement. His Agent Lady friend gets killed so he goes to Europe to track down whoever. Cool.
Dave: Also good, Taken 1 kind of.
Dan: 3) Denzel and Miles get into shit with the local Gang Gang. Those scenes were easily the most interesting and best acted. That relationship felt meaningful.
Instead we have all 3 and none are given room or care. Okay, that's it for me! Anything else before we get to the closing questions?
Dan: Great! Question one. What were your three favorite things about this movie?
Dave: The hand reach, The hand cup, Jackie Chan.
Dan: Wow. For me:
1) I liked that Denzel's character was filled out by him having BOOKS and aligning APPLES.
2) I thought storm effects were good, even if the island town as set piece was poorly utilized. That storm was set up early and looked rad.
3) I like that DAVE has an understanding wife who doesn't mind that her husband's friends are giant killer mercenaries who hang out in the cul-de-sac with TROOP GEAR. #relationshipGoals
Next question, if you could change one thing about this movie, what would it be?
Dave: Denzel goes blind in the second act revealing this to be a prequel to Book of Eli.
Dan: The girl on the train in the beginning grows up to be Mila Kunis.
For me, I would love to see at least 5-10 more LYFT passengers and how their lives turned out. Give me a Scientist who has fallen in love with the rat he is testing on. I want to see a Supermodel who really wants to give up the runway life to become a pastry chef. Show me a COP who wants to be a TROOP but his DAD is an AGENT. That's the whole point of a LYFT driver, to give us all these slices of life.
Okay, last one, if you could change the name of this movie, what would you call it?
Dave: LYFTD or MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: JOST PROTOCOL
Dan: I'd go with: 2 GUNS (THAT I TOOK OFF SOME GUY) or INSIDE VAN
Wow. Dave, thank you so much for joining me here on the podcast. Any last words for our fans?
Dave: Watch Ghost Story Club Fridays at 11:30 on Trutv as part of Late Night Snack or DM me and I'll just send you a link!
Dan: Same. And remember: "Don't mess with anyone who has access to your toothbrush!"
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David Ebert is a writer and actor. He created and wrote 'Ghost Story Club' on TruTV. Please watch it. If you email him at firstname.lastname@example.org he will personally send you a link to the series.