Antoine Fuqua and Denzel Washington‘s The Equalizer (Sony, 9.26) starts out coolly and unpretentiously and in no big hurry for the action to start. Which is okay with me. I was actually impressed by the fact that Tony Scott‘s Man on Fire (’04), still the high-water mark for Denzel whoop-ass, delayed the inciting incident (i.e., the kidnapping of Dakota Fanning) until the 45-minute mark.

We all know and accept what The Equalizer is basically about — Denzel bringing pain and death to a slew of bad guys. But I really need the action to be semi-plausible and that means Denzel has to be at least a little bit vulnerable, and I really don’t want the bad guys to just be heavily-armed, standard-issue muscle-bound jerkoffs, glaring and snarling and wearing the same beards and shaved heads and dressed in the usual black bad-guy apparel (black suits, black T-shirts, slick black boots)

When I sat down late this morning I said a silent prayer: “Please, Movie Godz…I know this thing isn’t going to be anywhere near as good as Man of Fire…Fuqua peaked or got lucky 13 years ago with Training Day and it’s been downhill ever since…he’s a much sloppier, less exacting and energetic director than Scott but if The Equalizer could almost as good as Man on Fire, I’ll be more or less content.”

Well, it’s about a third as good, if that. After a fairly promising first half-hour or so The Equalizer goes crazy and becomes less and less believable the bodies pile higher and higher. Denzel kills a lot of bad guys here…15, 20, does it matter? Man on Fire‘s Creasy did almost the same thing, but he operated with stealth and discretion. Here Denzel is playing a one-man army who can’t be killed, and it just goes on and on and on. Very disappointing. Later. It’s really not even worth reviewing this thing. It’s just slick garbage. I don’t mean to be dismissive but…well, actually I do.