LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - After watching the “The Equalizer,” moviegoers might never see the friendly guy at the home improvement store who picks out their tools and plywood in the same way.
In the action thriller that opens in U.S. theaters Friday, Denzel Washington plays McCall, an efficient, mild-mannered employee at Home Mart, who also happens to have a past as a trained killer and a way with tools.
“He’s resourceful,” the 59-year-old Washington told Reuters while promoting the movie at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this month.
Washington thinks McCall did not even need a home improvement store at his disposal.
“It could have been this room,” he said. “There’s plenty of stuff ... your shoe, the chain around your neck, your hair, the chair. You can do a lot of damage.”
The two-time Oscar winner reunites with Antoine Fuqua, his director from “Training Day,” for which Washington won his best actor statuette in 2002.
The film from Sony Corp’s Columbia Pictures is expected to be the top film at the North American box office this weekend, with ticket sales of $35 million, according to Boxoffice.com.
“The Equalizer,” based on the 1980s television series of the same name, depicts a man with an innate sense of justice who comes to the rescue of people in dire straits with no one to turn to.
McCall moves through Home Mart with a Zen-like calm, working hard and helping co-workers with their problems. At home, however, he leads an austere life alone and suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder and insomnia.
McCall spends long nights awake reading classics of literature in a diner, where he comes to know a teen Russian prostitute played by Chloe Grace Moretz.
Her abuse at the hands of a Russian human trafficking ring yanks McCall out of the simple existence he had sought following a complicated life in the murky world of intelligence where he had been a killer and suffered for it.
The unassuming Home Mart guy suddenly turns out to be an efficient slicer and dicer of Russian thugs.
“I wasn’t just interested in running around chopping up folks,” Washington said.
“So we added this element of OCD in his ritual, of folding the napkin, the tea bag and he had peculiar habits. So there is this character journey.”
McCall’s main nemesis of the many menacing characters in the underworld is Teddy, a Russian sociopath who comes from Europe with a posh accent and fine suits, looking more like a chief executive than a mobster.
“We wanted to make him methodical, elegant, give him a great deal of charm, but mostly bring him into the inner psychological world,” said Marton Csokas, the actor who plays Teddy.
McCall’s determination to decapitate the organization takes him and Teddy to the home improvement store in a tense half hour where much of the store’s inventory of lethal tools is deployed in their face-off.
Editing by Piya Sinha-Roy and Lisa Shumaker