THE EQUALIZER 2:
DENZEL IS BACK IN THIS THRILLING YET QUESTIONABLE SEQUEL!
By Nico Beland
Movie Review: ** ½ out of 4
Denzel Washington returns in The Equalizer 2
Denzel Washington (Glory, Training Day, Flight) reunites with director, Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, Shooter, The Magnificent Seven (2016)) in the sequel to the 2014 action hit, The Equalizer, based on the TV series of the same name. I’ve never seen the show but as a standalone movie, the first film was perfectly decent, I’ve seen better, but I’ve also seen worse, it’s a passable action thriller with plenty of Denzel kicking some ass.
Well, because movies can never be self-contained anymore we got a sequel, The Equalizer 2 with Washington reprising his role as former CIA agent, Robert McCall. I was very skeptical going into it because while I thought the first film was enjoyable it didn’t really leave an impression with me and that the sequel would just be a watered-down copy of its predecessor.
Thankfully The Equalizer 2 doesn’t fall victim to rehashing the first film and offers plenty of thrills and Denzel always shines every time he’s on-screen. But it does suffer from a convoluted story, questionable existence, and predictable plot twists.
The film follows Robert McCall (Washington) living in an apartment complex in urban Massachusetts and working as a Lyft driver and helping the less fortunate with his friend, Susan Plummer (Melissa Leo-All My Children, Frozen River, The Fighter). When Susan is suddenly killed after a murder-suicide investigation in Brussels, McCall must leave his peaceful life once again and put his old skills back to good use and set out a path of revenge to find the man who killed her and take him down.
The film also stars Pedro Pascal (The Good Wife, Game of Thrones, Kingsman: The Golden Circle) as Dave York, Ashton Sanders (The Retrieval, Moonlight, The Skinny) as Miles Whittaker, Bill Pullman (Spaceballs, Sleepless in Seattle, Independence Day) as Brian Plummer, Orson Bean (The Hobbit (1977), Being John Malkovich, How I Met Your Mother) as Sam Rubinstein, Sakina Jaffrey (Raising Helen, House of Cards, Red Sparrow) as Fatima, and Jonathan Scarfe (Madison, Slap Shot 2: Breaking the Ice, Van Helsing (TV series)) as Resnik.
Overall, The Equalizer 2 delivers exactly what it advertises, Denzel Washington kicking ass and solving a murder mystery for two hours, nothing more and nothing less. Though this movie is a milestone as the first time Denzel Washington starred in a sequel to one of his films.
Despite being a repeated performance, Denzel still gives it his all, he’s a tough badass who shoots, breaks necks, and snaps wrists but he retains this collected persona and is able to stay on-time even when a bunch of bad guys are trying to kill him. But at the same time, he helps other people on the side and even allows his enemies to do the right thing, which was something I really appreciated about the first film and it wasn’t just a bloody slaughterhouse all the way through.
Denzel and the action sequences are where the movie shines and they’re a lot of fun to watch, but the plot structure is where this movie goes downhill. The first film had a lot going on with its story but at least I was able to follow it okay, this one shifts tones by starting off like a gritty Equalizer movie as it should be but then it turns into a disaster movie, has plot elements that don’t really go anywhere, and at times the film is predictable, specifically with its final act.
I was able to catch on rather quickly what was going to happen in the story and who would end up being the villain, and a good chunk of the movie lived up to those expectations unfortunately. The plot of this movie just isn’t that interesting and the more time it’s being focused on the more I want the movie to cut to Denzel harpooning someone in the neck.
On the plus side the plot detour doesn’t feel like a huge waste of time because you know an action sequence is on the way and when Denzel kicks ass it’s great. So yeah, it’s a mediocre story with cool action sequences, an engaging Denzel Washington performance, and strong chemistry between Washington and Sanders that’s almost like a father-son relationship and is probably the most interesting part of the film’s plot.
If you enjoyed the first Equalizer then you’ll probably find something to like about The Equalizer 2, it isn’t bad and has some legitimately good moments but not quite enough to make an impression. Aside from Denzel’s performance and the action sequences I’ll probably forget about it in a day or two, generic, confusing, predictable, and forgettable, that’s The Equalizer 2 for you.