Sky Denzel | Our pick of what's on

The best of what's available on the actor's own Sky Cinema channel.

To celebrate the release of the Equalizer 2, the sleek high-octane sequel to Antoine Fuqua’s 2014 hit, Sky Cinema have dedicated an entire channel to the wonderfully varied and critically-acclaimed work of star Denzel Washington.

We had a good look through the line-up to bring you our top picks of what’s on.

American Gangster

Ridley Scott’s 2007 film is a darkly gritty 1970s-set gangster epic charting the equally gripping intertwining stories of powerful self-made heroin smuggler Frank Lucas (Washington) and clean-cut cop Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe) who's determined to bring him down.

Washington and Crowe give two brilliantly captivating performances, the former sincere and likeable while latter is quietly menacing under a dazzlingly charming facade, and the exploration of the socio-economic factors which motivate Lucas help set it apart from classic genre fare.

Adding to Scott’s uniquely vibrant visual style, which really works to bring Lucas’s beloved Harlem to life, is a stellar supporting cast including Cuba Gooding Jr as a flashy drug-dealer rival and Josh Brolin’s slimy corrupt cop Nick Truppo.

Flight

Washington scored his sixth Academy-Award nomination for his portrayal of the troubled alcohol and drug-addicted pilot William Whitaker in Robert Zemeckis’s deeply thoughtful and compelling film, his first live-action venture since Castaway in 2000.

After a terrifyingly tense opening sequence in which a highly-intoxicated Whitaker is able to save all but six of his passengers by managing to land a malfunctioning plane, Flight becomes more of a deeply affecting study of addiction and the destructive power it can have.

Naturally, Washington is absolutely fantastic as the tortured man who’s barely clinging onto control and British actress Kelly Reilly is impressively able to avoid falling into cliché despite a slightly underwritten role as his heroin addicted love interest.

Fences

Taking on the role of both director and lead actor, Washington once again proves himself an superbly talented force with this intelligent and incredibly poignant Academy-Award winning adaptation of August Wilson’s 1950s-set play.

The bitterness sanitation worker Troy (Washington) harbours about being passed over for Major League Baseball due to the colour of his skin creates tension with wife Rose (a superb Viola Davis) and son Cory (Jovan Adepo) when he’s scouted for a college football scholarship.

It’s a testament to Washington’s skill as an actor, and Wilson’s electrifying script, that the wonderfully complex character of Troy is able to appear both sympathetic yet very frustrating as those painful feelings he just can’t let go of work to slowly poison his relationships.

Inside Man

Although it’s normally their first collaboration, the powerful 1992 biopic of civil rights activist Malcolm X, that’s deservedly showered with praise, Spike Lee’s slick and thrillingly energetic heist film shouldn’t be overlooked as an example of Washington’s great work.

A entertainingly tense game of cat-and-mouse erupts between ruthless criminal mastermind Dalton Russell (Clive Owen) and experienced negotiator Keith Frazier (Washington) after he seizes control of major New York bank and takes all of the employees hostage.  

It might sound like all too familiar a setup, but Washington’s enjoyably smooth-talking performance combined with Lee’s typically charged dialogue and a number of wickedly sharp twists and turns are all guaranteed to keep you hooked.

The Equalizer

Along with the explosive Unstoppable, The Taking of Pelham 1,2,3 and 2 Guns, The Equalizer is one of the many very stylish and gloriously madcap action films that Washington has become known for in recent years.

Retired Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) operative Robert McCall (Washington) is forced back into action to save vulnerable teenage prostitute Alina (Chloë Grace Moretz) from a miserable life enslaved by the Russian Mafia.

Washington’s impressive amount of natural charisma mean that it’s always a delight to see him in these kinds of irresistibly cool, fun roles and he’s always excellent at selling the occasionally cheesy line of dialogue and making a standard henchman kill feel exciting. 

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