The way we see it, Robert McCall is a wretched soul who is condemned to a pitiful, lonely existence to make amends for a life-long inclination to bloodshed and violence. The OCD-afflicted veteran killing machine, who, despite his efforts to make human connection, prefers to never open up about his emotional turmoil, actually conveys pent-up guilt, pain, anguish, and an ever-present, simmering rage through his cold, steely gaze. Therefore, for a person like Robert, who perhaps doesn’t believe in the concept of redemption, attaining peace is a far-fetched fantasy. Even a small chance of that fantasy turning into reality is too precious to Robert, and when its existence is threatened, you better know there will be severe repercussions.
The Equalizer 3, the third and final installment of the crime-action drama Equalizer franchise, deals with that sort of repercussion, and even in his 70s, Denzel Washington proves his legend-cred by totally owning the one-man army role better than actors half his age.
A Piece Of Fantasy: How Did Robert Arrive In Altamonte?
The Equalizer 3 opens in the remote countryside of Sicily, and we meet a local crime boss, Lorenzo Vitale, who, accompanied by his teenage son, is heading towards their villa or winery. Asking his son to stay put inside the car, Lorenzo moves inside the winery and, to his absolute horror, sees the corpses of his henchmen, who have been bruised, maimed, burned, and hacked to death. As he reaches the basement, the one person responsible for this rampant carnage, ex-Marine and ex-DIA Robert McCall, is seen being held at gunpoint by two of his last remaining henchmen. Upon his arrival, Robert provides Lorenzo with a brief timeframe to reconsider his actions and call on his henchmen, just like he usually gives a chance to any miscreant he faces. Needless to say, Lorenzo remains as confused as ever, leading to Robert brutally dispatching him and his lackeys. It turns out that Lorenzo took something that was important to Robert (details of which don’t get revealed until the end of The Equalizer 3), and he has arrived in Italy to get that back from him.
While moving out of the winery, Robert gets accidentally shot in the back by the nervous teenage son of Lorenzo. Initially, Robert contemplates shooting himself to death, but later patches himself up roughly and starts driving through the Amalfi Coast to return to the States. However, due to the pain and excessive bleeding caused by the wound, Robert suffers from excessive post-traumatic shock and passes out. A passing carabinieri, Gio Bonucci, rescues Robert and takes him to the revered senior medic, Dr. Enzo, in his hometown, Altamonte.
A New Home: Who Are The Quaranta Brothers?
Thanks to Enzo’s care and treatment, Robert gradually recovers and learns that, as a sign of their trust in him, neither Gio nor Enzo bothered to dig up his past. Robert gets acquainted with the picturesque, tranquil small town of Altamonte, nestled on a sea-facing hillside, and is greeted with warmth and love by the local residents. He befriends Gio’s family, consisting of his wife Aminah and their daughter Gabby, the local fish vendor Angelo, and the town bishop. The down-to-earth and amicable residents slowly accept Robert as one of their own.
However, even a quaint solitude like this has been plagued by the dregs of society—in this context, in the form of the Quaranta Brothers. The elder one of them, Vincent, is a member of the Camorra crime family, and emboldened by the power of the mob, he wants to renovate the town into a corporate tourism hub. In order to do that, he enlists his brother Marco and his biker gang to extort money from the townsfolk and force them into giving up control. To send his point across, no act is off limits. As the first time viewers meet Vincent, he organizes the killing of a paraplegic elder member of a family who were unwilling to sell their ancestral home to him. With absolute control over local authorities, there is nothing that can stop them from terrorizing the good people of this town as they please.
How Are Lorenzo’s Winery And Vincent’s Gig Connected?
Days after his arrival, Robert calls the financial operations agent of the CIA, Agent Collins, and tips her off about an international conspiracy related to the winery where he had razed Lorenzo and his henchmen. Agent Collins brings her unit to the scene of the crime in Sicily, where it is found out that synthetic methamphetamine was being imported from the Middle East in the guise of imported liquor, and millions of dollars stashed there act as proof of the transaction that took place for months. However, no evidence against the killer who is responsible for the deaths of Lorenzo and his men is found, but using a trail of surveillance, Agent Collins manages to track down Robert in Altamonte and considers him to be a person of interest in the case.
On the other hand, Marco and his biker gang begin putting the heat on the townsfolk using violent methods. Angelo, the fish vendor, gets brutally beaten by Marco upon his failure to come up with payments, and to really threaten the townsfolk with consequences, the gang burns Angelo’s shop and ancestral home down. Both of these incidents were witnessed by Robert, who had previously considered leaving the town after his recovery but has grown to love this neighborhood. Gio starts investigating the perpetrators, which gets him and his family abused and beaten in their home by Marco’s men. Robert learns from Enzo that the hooligans belong to the Camaro crime family, which is the reason they are so feared among the townsfolk and seemingly treated as untouchables.
Agent Collins meets with Robert once again to let him know that, along with circumstantial evidence against Lorenzo that he supplied the drugs further inland, it has been found out that he had siphoned out money through fraudulent methods from several offshore accounts. For the time being, Robert is cleared of any suspicion. Collins still remains curious as to why Robert chose to particularly tip her about the case, as she learns that he somehow knew her personally beforehand.
As it is revealed much later, Vincent supplied the monetary aid to import the drugs and spread them throughout the EU to strengthen his operations. In fact, he plans to turn Altamonte Port into one of the transaction points and asks his brother Marco to make the appropriate preparations.
Vengeance Incarnate: How Did Robert Defend The Townsfolk?
Marco and his men pay another visit to Gio and his family at a restaurant and threaten him to hand over control of the port to them. Robert, who was also present at the scene, starts eyeballing them. Marco, triggered by his gesture, goes to have a one-on-one with him and gets much-deserved ‘pain therapy’ in return from Robert. He warns Marco and his gang to leave the townsfolk alone or be prepared to face severe consequences.
Later that night, Marco and his gang plan to eliminate Robert, but they themselves get brutally killed when Robert ambushes them. The next day, the same synthetic meth is found in Marco and his gang’s van, which leads Agent Collins to interrogate Naples’ police chief about the drug supply chain. However, the chief turns out to be on Vincent’s payroll and informs him about the CIA’s involvement in the situation. Vincent tortures him by hacking his hand off for insubordination and plants a bomb in Agent Collins’ car. Thanks to Robert’s timely call, Collins evades death but gets hospitalized due to injuries.
Later that day, Vincent arrives with his armed Camorra enforcers at the Altamonte town square area and threatens to kill Gio if Marco’s killer doesn’t reveal himself. Robert appears and surrenders himself to save Gio’s life, but Enzo interferes to protect him, along with the townsfolk recording the events. This pushes Vincent and his crew to retreat for the time being, swearing revenge on Robert. Later that night, Robert stealthily infiltrates Vincent’s mansion and systematically dispatches all of his enforcers one by one. Like a wraith, he creeps through shadows to use violent means to eliminate every single one of Vincent’s bodyguards and assaults him at the last. Robert force-feeds Vincent with the same synthetic meth pills and lets him helplessly roam across the streets while on his tail. A terrified Vincent runs from Robert, who appears like a vengeful spectre on a mission, and the way the ruthless criminal cowers on the verge of death, much like how his unfortunate victims did, it seems as if poetic justice is being served. Eventually, due to an overdose, Vincent suffers from cardiac arrest and dies, and at the same time, the townsfolk celebrate their religious festival at the seashore, symbolizing the end of the curse that has plagued them for so long. As far as most commercial action movies go, the climax really comes off as unique and strong. Robert was always in control of every situation, which is why, without unnecessary over-the-top sequences employed, his tactical prowess made for such a gratifying ending.
Will Robert McCall Return Once Again?
In the aftermath of Vincent’s death, Robert visits a hospitalized Agent Collins and hands her a substantial amount of cash. It is revealed that Lorenzo’s fraudulent money siphoning robbed Greg Dyers, one of Robert’s close associates, of his entire life’s savings, and to recover that, he ventured to Italy from Boston in the first place. The rest of the revelations were coincidental. Robert requests Agent Collins return the money to the couple, which she does after her recovery. It is also revealed that Agent Emma Collins is the daughter of Robert’s beloved friend, the late Susan Plummer, which is the reason why Robert chose to trust her. Thanks to Robert’s help, Emma learns about other factions of the Camorra family being involved in the drug trade, and by helping law enforcement to nab them as well, she gets promoted.
Back at Altamonte, Robert rejoices with the residents as they celebrate the victory of the local football team. He has found his peace among the people in this beautiful province, and there is nothing more he wishes to ask for in this late stage of his life. Although we, as viewers, might want to see Robert venture out to squander new adversaries, The Equalizer 3‘s ending feels much more desirable for an afflicted character like him. Perhaps in prequel movies, as the director Antoine Fuqua has also proposed, the legend of Robert McCall might continue further.