‘Planet of the Apes’ Director Rupert Wyatt Eyes ‘The Equalizer’ with Denzel Washington

Published 2 years ago by , Updated February 16th, 2014 at 9:23 am,

The Equalizer was stalled in early development for nearly three years, after plans for Russell Crowe and director Paul Haggis to reunite on the 1980s television series adaptation went nowhere. However, Sony executives bumped it onto the fast-track after reading a refurbished script from Richard Wenk (The Mechanic, Expendables 2), setting Denzel Washington to play the role made famous by Edward Woodward and lining up artistically-accomplished filmmakers to steer the direction.

Deadline is reporting that Rise of the Planet of the Apes director Rupert Wyatt has entered negotiations to oversee The Equalizer. This news arrives five months after we learned he’s not working on the second installment in the rebooted Apes series, titled Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (allowing Cloverfield director Matt Reeves to fill his spot), as well as a month after Nicolas Winding Refn formally parted ways with the production. No doubt, if Wyatt strikes a deal, he’ll make a very different sort of action movie than Refn (Drive) would have delivered.

Here is how the site describes The Equalizer:

The film is loosely based on the TV series that starred Edward Woodward as a mysterious former covert operations officer who helps people in trouble, and was created by Michael Sloan and Richard Lindheim. The film has that basic premise but takes off in its own way, tailored to Washington’s skills. He’ll play a solitary, monastic figure who hates injustice and devotes himself to helping people who are being victimized.

Sony wants Equalizer to kick off the first Washington franchise (it’s surprising that he hasn’t led one before); hence, the studio is budgeting the adaptation to cost $50 million – including, its star’s customary $20 million paycheck. Paramount tried to do as much with this past December’s Tom Cruise vehicle Jack Reacher, but Christopher McQuarrie’s well-received crime-thriller isn’t transitioning its aging (re: over 50) leading man away from his handsome hero persona as hoped.

denzel washington equalizer1 Planet of the Apes Director Rupert Wyatt Eyes The Equalizer with Denzel Washington

By comparison, Wenk’s Equalizer screenplay is tailor-made to allow Washington to continue playing, well, himself (re: a righteous and noble man who acts with moral purpose). It’s a bit disappointing to see the actor tread on comfortable and over-explored territory for him, following on the heels of his performance in Flight (read my review) that reminds everyone Washington’s range extends beyond “solitary, monastic” characters. Few have the same commanding presence, though, and its these Washington roles that are most reliable at the box office (see: Safe House).

Wyatt demonstrated a strong understanding of the socially-conscious action movie and how to execute genre thrills with style, in the prison escape flick The Escapist and Rise of the Planet of the Apes, so he’s very much a promising candidate for taking on The Equalizer. However, Sony first has to work around a deal he has with Fox before anything can be finalized; not to mention, Wyatt’s attached to the AMC TV show pilot Turn and the film Birdsong starring Nicholas Hoult (Jack the Giant Slayer), so that likewise needs to be addressed.

The Equalizer opens in theaters on April 11th, 2014.


Source: Deadline

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  1. Gutted that Winding Refn turned this down but Wyatt seems like a good choice, Rise of the Apes was really enjoyable and Washington is always on form, I always liked his character from Inside Man and thought he deserved his own franchise

  2. Shame I wanted him to direct Jurrasic Park 4! If theres someone who can breath new life into it it be him!

  3. Denzel Washington, an excellent actor who (yes) pretty much plays “himself” (great acting but undisguished from his other roles)has generally played the “monastic” type full of (eventual) nobility. RE: MAN ON FIRE, SAFE HOUSE, FLIGHT. It’s his M.O. for dominating the screen, as he does.

    If not an out-and-out rebel, he’s a maverick in a given situation. And with a journeyman director like Wyatt, Washington will emerge good in the role but a routine film overall; routine, unless the script is something really special.

    THE EQUALIZER will work against him, if Denzel’s only recourse is shooting a lot of people rather than intimidating most of them in very different ways. Otherwise, it’ll be JACK REACHER (worse, MAN ON FIRE) all over again.

  4. I’ll be interested to see how this comes out. I liked Rise of the Apes so hopefully this will be a good piece of popcorn filmmaking.

  5. I’d love to see an Equalizer vehicle again. Now don’t get me wrong, Denzel is a good actor, and I certainly am not anti-black. However, just sayin’, but why do we always have to fill white parts with black actors? While I am sure I would enjoy this, when we have Michael Jackson, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Black Panther, and Luke Cage all played by white actors, then we can go on with substituting black actors for white parts. No bias, but do you see my point?

    • All of the names you listed are either real people or characters whose ethnicity is an important aspect of who they are.

      The Equalizer character, by comparison, is not someone whose identity is defined by their race in any significant amount. Hence, I don’t see a problem with Washington taking on the role.

  6. Pfft!…Why should this character be played by a black guy? Why! I mean…But wait, isn’t (Johnny Depp) playing non-white characters in Tonto. A part that was initially played on screen and written to be native American? That’s right I forgot! Johnny is 1/64 Cherokee or is it Creek? Listen, Denzel is one of the most bankable stars around. And for those who claim he’s just playing himself, well then I call that some darn good acting if it’s that convincing! Tom Hanks stated that and I quote, “working with Washington on Philadelphia was like going to film school”. And sticking with the point of playing himself; if that’s the case then RDJ is doing nothing more than playing himself in IM and Sherlock Holmes. But to be fair there was a similar outcry when SR did an article about non-Americans acting in some of the biggest parts on film around. I think what we need to understand is that the world is getting smaller along with the fact that Hollywood really has no new ideas. They often put a spin on something that’s already been done which often means changing the race of a character.