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Denzel Washington, star of many action films: “I don’t know what an action film is”

Denzel Washington, star of many action films: "I don't know what an action film is"
Denzel Washington. (Image: George Pimentel/WireImage)

In The Equalizer, Denzel Washington teams up once again with Training Day director Antoine Fuqua to play a CIA agent who comes out of retirement to protect a young ingenue (Chloë Grace Moretz) from the Russian mob. Washington, Fuqua, Moretz and co-star Marton Csokas all showed up at a press conference on Sunday to talk about the film.

The panel’s moderator, noted film critic Elvis Mitchell, asked Fuqua and Washington about the film’s connection to Ralph Ellison‘s seminal 1952 novel The Invisible Man, which Washington’s character reads in the film. The talk about masterworks of literature soon transitioned into the usual: “Why did you decide to do this film?" and “Why do you like working together?"

A highlight was a journalist asking Fuqua about his use of the cliched “action-hero-walks-away-from-an-explosion” shot in The Equalizer. Fuqua said it was an homage to Tony Scott, the late action-cinema auteur who directed Washington in a number of films. But more than that, Fuqua said the shot is cliched for a reason. “It’s a cool shot. Think about it. It’s a really cool shot.”

Later, Washington bristled at the idea that The Equalizer is an “action” movie, a conclusion that one might draw based on all that, y’know, action. “I don’t know what an action film is,” he said, cloyingly. “I don’t even know if I made one.” For the record, Denzel Washington has appeared in the following action films: Ricochet, Crimson Tide, The Siege, Man On Fire, Déjà Vu, The Taking of Pelham 123 (the remake), The Book of Eli, Unstoppable and 2 Guns.

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