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Equalizer, The


  • BBFC 15
  • R-Rated
Release: Feb 10, 2015 - Author: Mike Lowrey - Translator: Mike Lowrey - external link: IMDB

The Equalizer is the film adaptation of the TV series from 1985 and is starring Denzel Washington which is a good fit for the part of Robert McCall, a calm, kind man who puts aggressors in their place with precision and relentlessness when it is appropriate. Antoine Fuqua directed the film and does so competently in both action scenes and storytelling sequences. Quite long with a little over 2 hours running time, The Equalizer is a movie that should mainly satisfy action fans and raise the anticipations for a sequel that is said to be in the works.

With its brutal outbursts, the film has really earned its "R" rating in the US. The British BBFC would have given it the "18" classification but Sony Pictures UK wasn't satisfied with that and aimed for the "15" rating. Before the film hit UK cinemas, the film was censored in order to achieve that goal. The BBFC advised pre-cuts that were then made and consequently led to the distributor's desired rating:

During post-production, the distributor sought and was given advice on how to secure the desired classification. Following this advice, certain changes were made prior to submission

This work was originally seen for advice. The company was advised that the film was likely to receive an 18 certificate but that their preferred 15 classification could be achieved by making cuts to reduce the violence in two scenes. When the finished version of the film was submitted for formal classification, edits had been made to reduce sequences of violence, including detail of a stabbing with a corkscrew and a garroting. The formal submission was consequently rated 15.

Unfortunately, this version found its way onto the British home video releases, as well, while other markets got the fully uncut version of the film (no implementation of those cuts for the rest of the world this time!). Even though the BBFC's notes on such cases are often correct and reliable, they aren't in this case. Yes, the two mentioned scenes suffered censorship, but there are more cuts. Uncut alternatives for British fans could be Germany (region code B) or the US.

Comparison between the censored, British Blu-ray (BBFC 15) (by Sony Pictures UK) and the uncensored US Blu-ray (R-Rated) (by Sony Pictures US).

6 cuts, 1 scene with alternate material = 15 seconds

0:33:06: People in the UK also see how the corkscrew sticks in Tevi's mouth. But how McCall pushes it into the skull once more and how Tevi stares at him while blood flows out of his mouth is removed.
2.52 sec.

BBFC 15R-Rated

0:33:12: A normal cut in the UK version as Tevi is shown once again.
1.48 sec.

0:44:51: That's surprising. The BBFC's notes don't mention that the scene with the construction worker has been censored, as well. Two hefty punches to the man's face are omitted in the UK version.
1.8 sec.

0:44:59: Teddy can be seen briefly as he starts another punch but nothing explicit happens.
0.44 sec.

1:47:35: The Russian mercenary gasps for air as he hangs in front of McCall. Blood is exiting his wound.
4.04 sec.

1:48:14: The camera pan around the gangster with the garden utility in his neck is shortened in the BBFC 15 version.
3.64 sec.

1:48:19: The blade sticks out from his neck a little longer.
1.08 sec.