Russell Crowe is not the late, great Edward Woodward, the man once and forever fondly known around Empire Towers as E-wa Woo-wa. But he wants to be: Crowe has attached himself to the long-gestating film version of The Equalizer.
While the ‘80s are well and truly back after the success of this past weekend’s nostalgia trip (with new takes on The Karate Kid and The A-Team doing solid business), a film of The Equalizer is a project that has been walking the mean streets of Development Hell since at least 2005.
Back then, Harvey Weinstein got his hefty paws on the title, referencing his love for the series and putting in place a process that would eventually draw in Lucky Number Slevin director Paul McGuigan and writers Terrill Lee Lankford and Michael Connelly.
But the long drawn out march to the screen has taken its toll and now it would seem that most of the talent has peeled away, leaving only producer Mace Neufeld. He’s joined forces with production company Escape Artists (which helped get The Taking Of Pelham 123 remake on screen) to start shopping it round the studios, since The Weinstein Company seems to be too busy trying to buy back the Miramax library to worry about putting movies out at the moment.
The show, in case you weren’t aware (check out the synth-tastic opening credits here, which truly are a throwback to a time when the creative team put out art instead of a basic introduction to the main cast), followed hard-bitten former government agent Robert McCall (Woo-wa), who decided that his days of doing terrible things in the service of his country were over and that he'd spend his days – and nights – helping people who couldn’t turn to the police. Despite his redemption-minded quest, he usually ended up getting violent. But we loved him for it.
A darker-edged set-up like that could be just what Crowe needs, even if the last time he played a character based on a British series, in State Of Play, the crowds didn’t exactly flock to the multiplex. Still, The Equalizer has more of a gritty, action edge to it, which might make it an easier sell.
Sadly, there's now no chance of a proper Woodward cameo now, at least not without a ouija board.