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Review: The Equalizer 2 (2018)

The Equalizer 2 (2018)

Directed by: Antoine Fuqua

Premise: A sequel to the 2014 film. Former CIA agent Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) lives a simple and unassuming life, putting his skills to work for people in need of help. The murder of an old friend reveals ties to his past.

What Works: On a scene-by-scene basis there is a lot to like about The Equalizer 2. Director Antoine Fuqua steps up his filmmaking craft from the first film and the sequel includes some exceptional visuals with unusual angles and impressive editing. The action sequences are done well. Unlike the overdone set pieces in some Hollywood action pictures, the action of The Equalizer 2 is tight and brief. The film includes several episodes of Robert McCall helping various people. He spends his days working as a Lyft driver and gets involved in people’s lives, using his skills to administer justice as he sees fit. The sequences dramatize McCall’s code of ethics and establish him as a likable and just character. The sequel makes better use of Denzel Washington’s talents than the first film did; his charisma shines in The Equalizer 2 and Washington’s ability to project moral certitude plays well here. Relationships are central to The Equalizer 2 and McCall’s friendship with his CIA ally credibly motivates the second half of the movie. The best parts of The Equalizer 2 involve McCall mentoring a young man, played by Ashton Sanders, who teeters between a promising future and a life of crime. Washington and Sanders’ shared scenes have an emotional impact and had The Equalizer 2 just focused on their story it might have been a better film.

What Doesn’t: While The Equalizer 2 has great individual pieces, those pieces don’t fit together into a cohesive whole. The movie is all over the place and the story feels as though it was cobbled together from multiple scripts. The main thrust of The Equalizer 2 is McCall getting revenge on the people who murdered his friend but the story doesn’t get to that until about a third of the way into the film’s running time. The opening is padded with scenes of Denzel Washington’s character beating up bad people. Those sequences are fun but they are also random and redundant. When McCall finally investigates his friend’s murder he discovers that the killers have connections to his past. That ought to provoke some soul searching on McCall’s part; as a vigilante he ought to question his motives or tactics. But the movie doesn’t have time for that. The filmmakers plow through any opportunities for depth and just get to the action movie showdown. The Equalizer 2 doesn’t come to much of a conclusion nor does it tie together its various pieces. The film is a series of unrelated violent episodes that eventually just stops. 

Bottom Line: The Equalizer 2 has some good pieces but they don’t coalesce into a coherent movie.  It delivers as an action picture but the film is a disjoined mashup of different ideas and subplots that aren’t followed to a meaningful conclusion.

Episode: #709 (July 29, 2018)