Don't worry if you don't remember "The Equalizer," the late '80s TV series on which Denzel Washington's latest film is based.
The movie borrows little from the show except a few names and a basic setup that is intended mostly as a vehicle for righteous violence.
As in the TV show, a mysterious loner named Robert McCall (Mr. Washington) stalks city streets, taking down thugs and bad guys in an effort to help good citizens put-upon by the crime and corruption of urban life.
He's got a past, a sense of justice, and a way with knives and guns.
The movie changes the city setting from New York to Boston, perhaps out of deference to the Big Apple's massive drop in street crime over the last two and a half decades.
But aside from the inclusion of a few cops with Irish accents, Boston doesn't have much a presence or personality.
That's in keeping with the rest of the film. It's an appropriately generic urban setting for this thoroughly generic revenge thriller and its bloody but persistently generic action thrills.
One of thinking about the movie is as a spiritual successor to Man on Fire, the 2004 Tony Scott actioner that also starred Washington. The Equalizer isn't nearly as stylistically over-the-top (although from time to time it flirts with a similarly spastic approach), but it has the same sort of determined, violent, justice-at-all-costs momentum. There isn't all that much drama, really, just a series of increasingly brutal encounters in which Washington inevitably triumphs, using whatever is convenient as a weapon. It's not about the conflict so much as it is about the catharsis.