The Equalizer - The Movie: Blood & Wine ★★★

Don't be fooled by the title, this isn't really a movie. What it is - originally at least - is the two part opening of the third season of The Equalizer. I believe that subsequently this two-parter was shown together as a TV movie and distributed as such on home media, including most recently in the wake of the big screen Denzel Washington remake of the series, hence the DVD cover employing a similar man-with-gun-in-the-rain graphic to the one that film's poster had.

Blood & Wine may not be the best example to highlight the premise of The Equalizer, but it certainly throws a lot at the screen and there's never a dull moment. Like most episode of The Equalizer it boasts high production values (the budget seems to be more than most Cannon action movies of the time) a starry cast, and it showcases 1980s New York really well. The storyline here concerns the arrival in the city of a previously European-based and highly dangerous terrorist known as 'Alpha', played by William Atherton. Determined to launch a series of terror attack in the city, Alpha has a peculiar drive behind his mayhem; he hates God and he has in his sights a religious street festival. Alerted to his presence, the FBI call in their one expert on Alpha, his former mentor Joseph Heiden (Telly Savalas) who is now a monk, atoning for his years of carnage and mass killing. Needless to say, that's another reason why Alpha seems to hates religion.

So where does our hero, Edward Woodward's Robert McCall figure in all of this? Well, the urban white knight has been called in by a woman who has a bad feeling about the man her daughter is currently living with. She contacts McCall through his advert in the papers and reveals to him that she stumbled across a gun in her daughter's boyfriend's belongings. McCall is initially hesitant to investigate, but when he sees someone spying on their meeting, he decides to take the case. A second meeting with the concerned woman ends in disaster when a runaway truck careers into her car, sending both her and McCall into the Hudson. McCall narrowly escapes with his life, but his client is dead. It soon transpires that the truck driver died at the wheel as a result of a drug-induced heart attack - sure enough, the boyfriend is in fact Alpha. From there, McCall joins forces with the FBI and forms an uneasy alliance with mass murderer-turned-monk Joseph, the man responsible for the death of his own godson in a Paris terror attack.

Like I say there's a lot packed into Blood & Wine and it's an enjoyable 90 or so minutes, but I couldn't help but notice some plot holes, silliness and general inconsistencies. For a cold blooded professional Killer, Alpha (superbly played by Atherton, you really do want to see him stopped especially as, unlike most of the villains-of-the-week in the series, he's actually shown to pose a significant threat to McCall's life) is certainly stupid for not ensuring that he shoots someone to ensure that their death would be instantaneous. There's also a bit where Christopher Murney playing Bagler, one of McCall's colourful contacts (an enjoyable stock-in-trade for the series) captures Alpha at gunpoint and is shown to be swayed by the killer's request for him to assassinate McCall on his behalf and be paid in diamonds that would help settle his many debts. Bagler does indeed shoot McCall - but his gun is loaded with paint pellets, a callback to an opening scene in which McCall stages Bagler's own death in the same manner to free him from some of his debtors. Now, this is all very neat but it does actually mean that the weapon which Bagler has was loaded with paint pellets all along. Why? He wasn't to know that Alpha was going to try and broker a deal with him to kill McCall? I mean, it's not like he had a chance to load them either - his gun was trained on Alpha at all times!