REVIEW: Washington and some good action isn’t enough to save ‘Equalizer 2’

I’ll admit, I was disappointed that Denzel Washington’s character never said “you’re about to get equalized.”

In all fairness, Washington’s character, Robert McCall, isn’t a superhero, but he sure fights like one.

In the first film, released in 2014, McCall was a retired special government operative who wanted a quiet life. However, he had to bring his skills out of retirement to help a young girl. At the end of that movie, he decided to continue helping people with the skills he still has.

So, the sequel follows McCall continuing on that mission. While he maintains a rather simple job as a Lyft driver, he moonlights by righting wrongs that have been done to innocent people. As his vigilante work continues, though, one of his friends and colleagues from the government is killed. As a result, he decides to go after those responsible.

“Equalizer 2” seems to start things off interestingly enough. In the first act a brutal assassination takes place and it seems to set up a good mystery. It was intriguing, considering that the previous film was a straightforward story of a guy being compelled to help a person in trouble and fight a bunch of bad guys.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, the first “Equalizer” was actually an alright film. However, having more or less the same story with the sequel would’ve been a bit disappointing.

So, starting things off with some mystery as to why this individual was assassinated and thinking that McCall will have to do some detective work this time around was interesting. Unfortunately, this aspect turns out to not have much of an impact on the overall story and the movie goes more into a generic revenge plot.

As disappointing as things get with the story, “Equalizer 2” is at least helped by the always reliable Washington. The two-time Academy Award winner always brings his A-game, and he’s solid here. It’s of course not one of his best performances, but he provides what’s needed. He gives the character the needed cold, calculating traits, convincingly bringing the assassin persona to the screen.

The same can’t really be said about the rest of the cast, though. Melissa Leo and Bill Pullman hardly have much screen time to make an impact. Pedro Pascal, meanwhile, is mostly forgettable in his role. One bright spot in the supporting cast, though, was Ashton Sanders, who added a bit of humanity to the story by playing a student who befriends McCall.

Director Antoine Fuqua, along with his crew, at least are able to provide some good action. Fuqua has come through before in other action pictures and this one isn’t too different. However, one of the issues here is that McCall was a bit too invincible. This may have been fine in the first one, but the sequel should have upped the threat to the character. Even though there are some cool sequences, there wasn’t as much suspense.

“Equalizer 2” works best as a rental type movie. That’s especially the case since you can fast-forward parts. Keep in mind that this is a movie comfortably over two hours.

Overall, Washington is fine, some of the action entertains, but the story fell apart and nothing particularly stands out. 2.75 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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