Ralph Potts reviews the Ultra HD Blu-ray debut of this edgy action/thriller about a man that has put his mysterious past behind him and has dedicated himself to beginning a new, quiet life. But when he meets a young girl under the control of ultra-violent Russian gangsters, he can't stand idly by - he has to help her.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:
Extras:
Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

91
Details:

Studio and Year: Columbia Pictures - 2014
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 132 minutes
Genre: Action/Thriller

Disc Format: BD-66
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1, English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, French/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Denzel Washington, Chloe Grace Moretz, David Harbour, Marton Csokas, Bill Pullman, Melissa Leo
Directed by: Antoine Fuqua
Music by: Harry Gregson-Williams
Written by:Richard Wenk based on the TV series by Michael Sloan & Richard Lindheim
Region Code: A

Release Date: July 10, 2018
"Evening the Playing Field"
My Take:

I reviewed The Equalizer’s 2014 Blu-ray release, and have included my comments from that review here. The rating for the film will be the same. New comments and ratings for the additional bonus content, Ultra HD video and Dolby Atmos mix are below.

McCall (Denzel Washington) has put his mysterious past behind him and is dedicated to living a new, quiet life. But when he meets Teri (Chloe Grace Moretz), a young girl under the control of ultra-violent Russian gangsters, he can't stand idly by. Armed with hidden skills that allow him to serve vengeance against anyone who would brutalize the helpless, McCall comes out of his self-imposed retirement and finds his desire for justice reawakened. If someone has a problem, if the odds are stacked against them, if they have nowhere else to turn, McCall will help. He is The Equalizer.

The Equalizer is directed by the very capable Antoine Fuqua is a re-imagined take on the TV series of the same name by Michael Sloan and Richard Lindheim. As you can see by the synopsis this is yet another action/thriller that pulls an old school operative out of retirement to face daunting odds. Denzel Washington of course isn’t just anybody and the retooling of the popular TV series in conjunction with him had excellent possibilities.

As I sat down to watch it I couldn’t help but have elevated expectations, despite the noticeably formulaic premise and potential for eye rolling action. Well I have to say that it all comes together pretty well. I mean don’t get me wrong this isn’t Washington’s best work and there is very little here that is original but The Equalizer is lots of fun. I am most definitely a fan of the vigilante taking on all comers type theme and here Washington plays the quiet cool, simmering dispenser of justice as only he can.

At times it teeters on ostentatious but Fuqua’s direction keeps focus intact by rarely overplaying the action or watering down the details. The screenplay by Richard Wenk does a nice job with developing the characters and correlating them both interpersonally and tonally. The film starts off stronger than it finishes as the closer it gets to the finale the more contrived it feels but luckily it hangs on without completely coming off of the rails.

There are several action set pieces which all center around hand to hand exchanges. The best of them, at least for me, is the first one, which takes place in an upstairs room/office in a restaurant. Denzel Washington is supported by solid turns by Chloe Grace Moretz, David Harbour, and the always reliable Marton Csokas.

There is a decidedly “Man on Fire”, without the enriching storyline, aesthetic but as I noted earlier it holds together thanks to the charisma of its star, apt direction and a cohesive script that primarily checks the right boxes. The Equalizer may not reinvent the wheel but that doesn’t keep it from being a gratifying and at times high voltage thriller that makes for a worthy beginning to a film franchise.

Replay Value:
Parental Guide:

The rating is for strong bloody violence and language throughout, including some sexual references.

AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

UHD Presentation: 90
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 
  • HDR: Dark Highlights:
  • HDR: Bright Highlights:
  • HDR: Expanded Color & WCG:
  • Resolution: 
  • Visual Impact: 

 

Dolby Atmos Rating: 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 
  • Level of immersion: 
  • Soundstage integration: 
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  • Effectiveness: 
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The Equalizer comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

For its presentation in Ultra HD The Equalizer was derived from a 2.8K source and rendered from a 2K DI.

From a cinematic perspective, this film was shot with a specific visual aesthetic in mind, and that comes through in this presentation. This easily bests the 1080p version, offering imagery that lifts the vail. I wouldn’t describe The Equalizer as overtly colorful, however, the palate of autumn-based hues, sepia tones and variants of blue/red/yellow benefited from UHD's wider color gamut, appearing bolder and vibrant. Resolution gets a noticeable boost as well. Close-ups and mid-level shots offer improved refinement and deeper resolvable texture revealing subtleties and minutia within the imagery.

There is intermittent use of visual elements that utilize high dynamic range. There were instances where bright elements looked appreciably vibrant, such as opening shots of Robert’s apartment where the sun shone through the windows illuminating objects within. The film contains a host of daytime segments which appeared more vibrant and tonally gradational in Ultra HD. Low level sequences, such as those that take place in and around Boston at night, and later in the darkened home store, had excellent depth of field and emboldened contrast. I think that The Equalizer benefitted from the Ultra HD treatment. The improvement is a discernible one that elevated the experience of watching the film.

Like the video presentations the new Dolby Atmos mix improves upon the previous 7.1 channel offering, which is excellent in its own right. The track run the gamut between subtle passages of spoken dialog to dynamically charged sequences that deliver opulent surround sound. As an enthusiast, I appreciate a well-crafted sound mix that draws me into the onscreen elements, regardless of where the sounds are emanating from. Audio object placement from both above and in the listening plane at ear level, are put to effective use.

The bombing at the shipyard is my favorite audio sequence in the film and this mix elevates it, generating a correlated, and broad soundstage where effects swirl, shift and traverse the listening area. I also appreciated the effectiveness of the added dimension during sequences where subtle special cues replicated the environments contained in the scene. Overall, I enjoyed the balance of atmosphere and integration of discrete object placement. I think that this immersive sound mix complimented the source material and made for an entertaining listening experience.

For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Bonus Features:
  • Disc 1: The Equalizer Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: The Equalizer Blu-ray
  • *NEW* 5 Never Before Seen Deleted Scenes, Featuring McCall’s Epilogue teasing The Equalizer 2
    [*](HD)Home Mart: Taking care of business one bolt at a time – 2 minutes
    [*](HD) Children of the night: featuring Chloe Grace Moretz – 5 minute featurette
    [*]*Exclusive (HD) Inside The Equalizer – 7 minute featurette
    [*]*Exclusive (HD) Denzel Washington: A different kind of Superhero – 7 minute featurette
    [*]*Exclusive (HD) Equalizer Vision: Antoine Fuqua – 7 minute featurette
    [*]*Exclusive (HD) One Man Army: Training and Fighting – 6 minute featurette
    [*](HD) Gallery
    [*]Digital HD Copy

Final Thoughts:

Based on the TV Series by Michael Sloan and Richard Lindheim The Equalizer is a solid thriller that capably re-images the character thanks to talents of star Denzel Washington, director Antoine Fuqua and a formulaic but cohesive screenplay by Richard Wenk. It is making its Ultra HD Blu-ray debut in this Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, featuring a faithful video rendering that makes the most of the source material, a complimentary Dolby Atmos immersive sound mix, and fair supplemental package, that includes legacy material and previously unreleased deleted scenes, and a teaser for the upcoming The Equalizer 2. If you’re a fan and are set up for Ultra HD Blu-ray/Dolby Atmos this is a no brainer.
 
Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews


Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS500 3D/4K Ready High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from  Spectracal )
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Oppo UDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems