Movies about retired, middle-aged antiheroes who their lethal skill sets to crush the faces of bad guys aren’t going away any time soon. Some are good, others are Taken 2.
But if there’s one guy we’ll never grow tired of watching go on a throat-punching rampage, it’s Academy Award winner Denzel Washington.
With The Equalizer shaping up to be another action hit for the guy King Kong ain’t got nothing on, let’s look back at some of the actor’s most badass action scenes.
5. 2 Guns: Blowing Up A Lot of Money
2 Guns, based on the BOOM! Studios comic of the same name, is a much better movie than anyone expected it to be, in large part due to Washington’s work as DEA Agent Bobby Trench, opposite Mark Wahlberg’s trigger-happy Naval Intelligence operative Stig. When the former comes to the latter’s rescue – at a drug lord’s house, no less – Bobby pops his car trunk full of millions of dollars just to “make it rain” explosions, burnt money and bullets.
And yes, he does coolly walk away from the explosion.
4. Crimson Tide: Confronting Gene Hackman – Twice!
Sure, it’s a tense and exciting scene when Washington’s Commander Hunter and his sub crew take out the enemy sub stalking them. But the film’s most action-packed sequence involves verbal fisticuffs, as Hunter butts heads with Captain Ramsey (Gene Hackman) over whether to start World War III. Toward the end of the film, Hunter must once again stand his ground opposite his captain – especially when his superior officer slugs him.
3. American Gangster: Street Corner Execution
As limo driver-turned-drug kingpin Frank Lucas, Washington goes from zero to Public Enemy No. 1 in this slow-burn crime drama, based on a true story. One of Frank’s most ruthless shows of power comes early on in the film, when he struts away from his meal -- in broad daylight -- to confront a business associate (Idris Elba) over a debt. The public execution that follows isn’t badass, but the cold way in which Lucas does it certainly is.
2. Book of Eli: Blind Post-Apocalyptic Swordsman: 1, Bikers: 0
More movies – nay, all -- need Washington to appear with a sword to solve problems.
While struggling to keep the last copy of the Bible safe from the bad guys, Washington’s Eli encounters a bar full of bikers who think it’s a good idea to mess with him. They learn that lesson in a slice-and-dice fashion.
1. Man on Fire: Bullets Vs. Kidnappers and Plastic Explosion Enema (Tie)
John Creasy is a battle-hardened, alcoholic ex-government specialist hired to protect – and, naturally, give swimming lessons to – cute, little Dakota Fanning. When Mexican kidnappers decide to pull a Taken on the little kid, Washington responds with lots of semi-automatic kill shots. He’s eventually hit by a few rounds, goes on the mend and then returns ready to pave his bloody road to vengeance with the bodies of those who cross his path.
Arguably, his most infamous kill – and victim – involves a C4 colonoscopy. (Cue one more slow-mo walk-away from an explosion.)