There’s a drug out there called Equalizer, or EQ for short. A scientist named Blaine Ng (Michael Nosé) created the drug to benefit man kind. It has the ability to restore one of your senses at the expense of the others. So say you can’t see well, you use it in your eyes and you can see better, but maybe you’ll not taste quite as good or hear quite so well. Two pharmaceutical companies have been trying to squelch the illegal EQ trade on the streets so they can merge and turn it into a prescription drug they can profit from.
Archie (Jeremy Koerner) runs a little cult of EQ users, though he doesn’t actually use it himself until way later in the film. They’ve made it their mission to kill the heads of the two merging pharmaceutical companies that want to control the EQ, and he’s working with the drug’s inventor to make sure the drug remains out of the control of the corporations.
Jill (Vanessa Leigh) is a homeless girl that Archie recruits into "the family". She’s not using EQ when he recruits her, but through her he also ends up recruiting a friend of hers named Johanna who is a frequent user and uses them both to further his plans.
Ok, that’s enough description I guess. Now for the review…
Much like his previous film, Black Cat Whiskey, I don’t have too many complaints about the quality of the film making, except for one, which I’ll get to in a minute. In general, the film is well shot, the lighting is good and some of the locations give it a very moody atmosphere.
Now, here’s my one big technical problem with the film. The dialog recording isn’t compressed or normalized in any way, so when the dialog becomes quiet, it becomes very hard to understand. The raising and lowering of the dialog is crucial to Jeremy Koerner’s performance of his character in particular, so it was important to capture that without letting it become too hard to hear and understand clearly. There were several times I had to back the film up, sometimes more than once to catch what was being said.
The acting in the film is a mixed bag. Jeremy’s portrayal of Archie was brilliant, as he is in virtually every role he plays. Vanessa Leigh as Jill put in a less stiff performance than she did in Black Cat Whiskey, but I think the problem once again with her is that she didn’t have a lot to work with as far as her character was written in the script. I actually think she has a lot more potential than she’s been able to show in these two films. There are a lot of people in this film, so I’m not going to go through every single one, but the acting generally ranged from passable to brilliant, which made things feel a bit uneven with regard to the cast.
The story needed more work as well. There are parts of this story that make no sense or just aren’t explained well, like what the ultimate goal is for Archie and Blaine. They’re working together against the drug companies and they’re planning on going to Delaware for some reason, but I don’t recall anyone ever actually saying why. There’s also the involvement of Johanna’s mother Piper (Beth Bemis). She never had to be brought into the picture at all. There was no reason for Archie’s character to even go talk to her in the first place. It was simply used as a vehicle for them to kidnap her for whatever reason so she could play a role in how things ended up. Also, the whole way Archie met and recruited Jill, and how she suddenly was embedded in this whole cult mentality felt like it just came out of the blue and was completely unrealistic.
The film was also entirely too long. There were scenes that were unnecessary that could have been cut entirely or shortened that could have brought it down to a more reasonable run time for the content of the story.
I will give credit where credit is due though. What happens to Johanna’s character at the end of the film is incredibly creepy and really well done. I won’t spoil it here, but it’s pretty messed up.
Jeremy Koerner’s portrayal of Archie is reason enough to see this film. Any chance you get to see him in a film, make sure you do, but if I’m being honest, this film needed some rewrites and some clarity as to the ultimate goal of the characters. It also needed to be edited down to tighten up the story and shorten it to a reasonable length. There was a lot done with what they had to work with and with some rewriting and editing it could have been a lot better. As it is, other than a few good performances and that great creepy part at the end, I can’t really say I’d recommend it unless you want to see Jeremy Koerner brilliantly playing yet another creepy bastard, in which case it’s definitely worth checking out.