Globetrotting Dreams: The Equalizer’s Italian Odyssey with Denzel Washington and Antoine Fuqua

Filmmaker Antoine Fuqua has nurtured a long-held desire to transport the Equalizer series beyond its domestic roots. The action franchise, loosely inspired by a 1980s TV show, features Denzel Washington as the reluctant assassin Robert McCall, initially set in the modest surroundings of Boston. However, with two films and a box office earnings of $382.7 million in the past decade, the time appeared ripe for international exploration.

“Denzel is a global movie star,” Fuqua stated to The Associated Press. “We thought it would be intriguing to see a man of color in a story with more international flavor. Why not take this character on a global journey? Fortunately, Sony embraced the idea.”

There was only one destination seriously considered: Italy. Fuqua shared that Washington visits Italy every summer, a tradition held since his children were infants. He cherishes the culture, the people, the cuisine, and even possesses some knowledge of the Italian language. “He feels at home there,” Fuqua added.

For Fuqua, the opportunity to film at Rome’s Cinecittà Studios and immerse himself in the history of cinema, walking the paths of Fellini and other greats, was a dream come true. Naples provided an authentic 1970s New York grittiness that required minimal production design for a pivotal confrontation. On the Amalfi coast, they chanced upon the picturesque village of Atrani, a place that aligned with their and McCall’s fantasies.

Atrani’s charm could easily connect with someone like McCall, which is exactly what transpires in “Equalizer 3,” set to debut in Indian theaters on Friday. The distinction is that McCall is uniquely equipped to confront the Camorra, single-handedly.

“When we arrived at that small town, we knew it was the spot,” Fuqua recounted. “The locals were so hospitable, bringing us coffee and espresso without even being asked. They even offered large lemons due to the heat. Falling in love with the people of such a town is inevitable.”

The sole “complaint,” if it can be called that, concerned the stairs. Atrani’s gem is a medieval church atop a mountainside overlooking the beach—an ideal setting for a crucial scene between McCall and Dakota Fanning’s CIA analyst. However, access required scaling over 700 steps. While it proved an arduous journey with the equipment essential for shooting, it served as a potent reminder for Fuqua and his three-time Oscar-winning cinematographer, Robert Richardson. Their aim was to depict an authentic place, not a tourist destination.

“It’s not a travel documentary,” Fuqua emphasized. “Although it’s stunning in the Mediterranean, for the locals, it’s real life. Fishermen sustain themselves through their catches, residing in modest homes. They climb those steps daily.”

The film reunites a seasoned core team, including producers Todd Black and Jason Blumenthal. Apart from the Equalizer series, Fuqua directed Washington in “Training Day,” earning him his first Best Actor Oscar. Black has produced all films Washington directed, as well as others. Washington introduced Black and Fuqua for the first Equalizer installment, initially perceived as a standalone film rather than a franchise.

“Creating a movie should not be driven by thoughts of franchises or awards. If your focus is on winning an award, earning a nomination, or building a franchise, you’re likely setting yourself up for failure from the start,” Black remarked. “Not always, but that shouldn’t be your approach.”

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