The Equalizer 2 review
Back in 2014, a movie called The Equalizer was released with Denzel Washington as the lead. I skipped put on it, but with it's sequel now out I decided to take a look. While it's nothing masterful, it was an enjoyable action movie about a one man defending the little guys against the mafia, corrupt politicians, and just about anyone who made his world a bad place. Yeah, I've seen these kinds of people before, but it still worked thanks to Denzel Washington and his natural charm. He's a rare actor who can play either side of the moral line. But when he is the hero, he usually selects roles where despite his good nature, could crack and you don't want that to happen.
I've never seen the television series it was based off of, but I can only imagine that it's similar. As I've said, much of the original Equalizer movie works mainly because of actor Denzel Washington and direction by Antoine Fuqua, who also directed him in Training Day and the remake of The Magnificent Seven. I figured that The Equalizer 2 would try to recapture the unexpected hit with more of the same.
Former Black Opts agent Robert McCall (played by Denzel Washington) seems to have tried settling down again, this time as a Lyft driver in Boston while living in a apartment complex. He still drawn to helping the little guy, including a woman who he suspects were abused by the people calling him for a Lyft. Still, he seems to rather help in an non confrontational way unless absolutely necessary, including troubled artist Miles (played by Ashton Sanders) and Holocaust survivor Sam (played by Orson Bean). After a visit from his friend Susan Plumber (played by Melissa Leo), she's sent to Brussels to investigate information for Robert, only to be attacked and killed in her hotel room.
Like before, Robert jumps right into her murder investigation including breaking into her apartment, speaking to her husband Brian (Played by Bill Pullman), and hacking into her electronics to find any clue. He even contacts his old CIA partner Dave York (played by Pedro Pascal) to see if he knows everything. This results in him doing more of his typical spy/action material, to get to the bottom of things, while trying to be the hero to those in his apartment and in his Lyft car.
I won't act like The Equalizer was amazing or original, but I had fun with it. The Equalizer 2 tries, but even the charm of Denzel Washington can't save this. Is this bad? It is, but it's hard to really get mad over this one. The story is just as typical as a lot of spy movies and the result is about what you expect. I won't give away who the villain was, but I was able to figure it out twenty minutes in. it just takes a while for it to reveal. In fact, it takes a while for a lot of things to get going, including the plot.
I'm not sure what director Antoine Fuqua was thinking, but despite being shorter, the pacing feel slower. I think it has to do with the fact that Denzel's character doesn't really have an arc nor does he learn anything. Something happens, he responds, and…that's it. A lot of James Bond and Mission Impossible movies do this too, but there's at least an attempt on some interesting action scenes and to make the stakes higher. The problem with The Equalizer is that while they try to make it personal, it doesn’t seem to affect him. The movie treats Denzel's reaction like he's cleaning up spilled coffee rather then dealing with a friend's death.
Will action fans be satisfied? Probably. I can count several action scenes (like the Lyft encounter, gang home, the home invasion, and a hurricane sequence) that I liked, but it does take a while to get there. Or at least it feels like it takes forever. The script is simply trying to build on the surprise success of the first movie, but builds on the wrong areas. It seems more interested in building Denzel on the outside rather then in.
I'll give this three Lyft stickers out of five. It has entertaining parts, but the movie feels so slow, that I'm not even sure it's worth sitting through to get there. I say it's worth a home rental, but nothing major to see on the big screen. If you want to see this just for Denzel, then you'll have plenty to look at. Give it a watch and see if this is someone you really want to see continue.