Two films being released on DVD and Blu-ray take very different looks at dealing with justice.
“The Equalizer 3” Grade B-: The latest and last feature film spawned from the 1985 vigilante television series – is marked by a solid performance by Denzel Washington and tight direction by Antoine Fuqua. That’s good but not enough to lift the film out of the general air of malaise filtered throughout the production.
Robert McCall (Washington) has escaped to Southern Italy to find some personal peace after a life of violence. While he would love to leave his brutal ways behind him, the local crime bosses just keep pulling him back into another fight. His role as champion for the common man gets magnified. Instead of coming to the assistance of one person, McCall becomes the guardian for an entire town.
Washington’s performance as Robert McCall is filled with the actor’s natural charm. That is a big saving grace. It does not completely counterbalance the fact there just isn’t the same sense of urgency that made the first two offerings in the production so entertaining.
Richard Wenk has been the writer on all three films. Except for shifting the story to a stunning European location, he never offers up anything more than tropes so often used in this kind of man vs. maniac criminals stories.
“Sound of Freedom” Grade C+: The film uses a rather placid approach to deliver a storyline that is automatically an emotional powder keg. It doesn’t take a clever script to get the audience engaged in a story about those who bask in the pure evil of abducting children for human trafficking.
It helps that the film is based on the true story of Tim Ballard, a former agent for the United States Department of Homeland Security. Keep in mind two of the most powerful words in Hollywood these days are “based on.” This creates a very broad world when it comes to dealing with what is exactly the truth.
The bottom line is “Sound of Freedom” is no more compelling than an episode of a television series such as “Criminal Minds.” The acting is passable and the pacing laborious at times.
What trumps that is a hunger for traditional tales of good vs. evil, especially when the story has to do with the unthinkable acts of cruelty inflicted on children. Toss in a little controversy and a clever ticket strategy and the result is a film that has been the biggest shocker of the movie year.
Also new on DVD and Blu-ray as of Nov. 14
“Justified: City Primeval: Season One”: Raylan Givens is drawn to Detroit where he gets involved with a new case.
“Bolivar”: Woman must deal with the death of her mother and all the aftermath with family.
“For All Mankind: Season One”: The series that looks at a world where the global space race never ended spotlights the high stakes lives of NASA astronauts and their families.
“The Sonny Chiba Collection, Volume 2”: Collection of seven classic films starring the lethal fighter, Sonny Chiba.
“Return to Dust”: Two lonely, middle-aged people are pushed into an arranged marriage by their respective families.
“Spirited Away: Live on Stage”: Hayao Miyazaki’s Academy Award-winning animated feature is brought to life in Tony Award-winner John Caird’s stage adaptation.
Available on digital platforms
“Story Ave”: South Bronx teen Kadir (Asante Blackk) is a gifted visual artist who loses his way following the death of his younger brother.
“The Creator”: Hardened ex-special forces agent grieving the disappearance of his wife (Gemma Chan) is recruited to hunt down and kill the Creator. Wil be released on DVD and Blu-ray on Dec. 12.
“Scrapper”: A 12-year-old secretly lives alone in her flat in a working-class suburb of London following the death of her beloved mum.
“Plan C”: Documentary looks at Francine Coeytaux, a social scientist based in Los Angeles and her team who launched an initiative in 2014 aimed at spreading the word about access to abortion pills online.
“Fremont”: Lonely Afghan fortune cookie factory worker decides to send a message out to the world through a cookie, unsure where it will lead.