Because, make no mistake, “The Equalizer 3” is hot garbage. It’s also a fascinating but failed attempt by Fuqua and Washington to make their own Mann-Stewart film. Consider how the Western genre stains this picture. During McCall’s raid on the villa, he is critically wounded and eventually discovered by a local cop, Gio (Eugenio Mastrandrea), who takes him to a quaint seaside Italian village, where a local doctor named Enzo (Remo Girone) treats the hitman’s wounds. While recuperating in the restful town, McCall learns to love the people and the peace they provide him.
Though a local young gang leader, Marco (Andrea Dodero), looms over them, McCall, who says he’s merely passing through, would rather avoid intervening. Like any Western, when push comes to shove, McCall will defend them while teaching these acquiescing people how to stand up to their oppressors.
Fuqua and cinematographer Robert Richardson (“Platoon” and “A Few Good Man”) provide further Western details through chiaroscuro lighting. Washington’s silhouette spells danger, while his weary frame expresses a close relationship to death. Richardson also captures the actor from extreme low angles, a la John Ford, painting heroic compositions. The problem, however, is they’ve made McCall so vicious we’re not quite sure if we should be rooting for him to kill.
While it makes sense for the character to show greater brutality—after all, in the first “Equalizer,” he was once a calm man idling in retirement—now he’s a man fully bathed in blood and guts again. Even Washington can’t fully pull across that throughline, especially when the script is so weak.