Following is Darien News film critic Susan Granger's review of the new movie, "The Equalizer:"

Denzel Washington still has star power. That's the only explanation for the surge at the box office when this grisly, gruesome, ultraviolent thriller first opened.

It begins with a quote from Mark Twain: "The most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why." The movie introduces quiet widower Robert McCall (Washington), who works as a manager at a Home Depot-like, super-hardware store in Boston, where he mentors a younger employee (Johnny Skourtis), who wants to be a security guard. McCall is a loner, eating and drinking tea in his usual booth at a local diner while he reads literary classics by Hemingway and Cervantes. One night, he strikes up a conversation with teenager Teri (Chloe Grace Moretz), a Russian-born hooker who is being terrorized by menacing mobsters. What she doesn't realize is that McCall is The Equalizer, a justice-obsessed, former CIA operative who comes to the aid of those who cannot help themselves.

After McCall single-handedly dispatches the crime syndicate with aplomb, Moscow oligarch Vladimir Pushkin (Vladimir Kulich) sends retribution in the form of Teddy (Martin Csokas), a "fixer" who years ago ruthlessly murdered his adoptive parents. Much of Teddy's torso is covered with a demonic tattoo, and to call him misogynistic is an understatement. In one agonizingly lengthy scene, he strangles another prostitute who tried to help Teri. Can McCall vanquish this sadistic psychopath, along with a pack of corrupt cops? That's the question.

Tracing its antecedents back to a 1980s CBS-TV series starring Edward Woodward as the vigilante, it's predictably scripted by Richard Wenk ("The Mechanic," "The Expendables 2") and directed by Antoine Fuqua ("Olympus Has Fallen," "Training Day"), who relishes the carnage.

Running 131 minutes, this crime drama feels far too long, but Washington consistently plumbs the depths of McCall's character and there are relevant cameos by Melissa Leo and Bill Pullman.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "The Equalizer" is a formulaic 5, as Denzel Washington challenges Liam Neeson as the new aging action hero.