The Equalizer 2, 2018.
Directed by Antoine Fuqua.
Starring Denzel Washington, Pedro Pascal, Ashton Sanders, Orson Bean, Melissa Leo, and Bill Pullman.
Robert McCall serves an unflinching justice for the exploited and oppressed, but how far will he go when that is someone he loves?
Throughout Denzel Washington’s long and varied career he hasn’t made a sequel until now. The Equalizer 2 is the sequel that no one wanted and that feels bloated and dull. The first film – also directed by Fuqua – was released in 2014 and was a decent action film. It didn’t break the mould but it had a good villain, compelling performances and was a fun way to pass a couple of hours. The follow up does not deliver anything close to this.
Robert McCall (Washington) is still helping out citizens with their problems. Whether it’s reuniting a kidnapped child with their mother or helping a victim of sexual assault, he’s the guardian angel. After his friend is murdered, McCall sets out to find out what happened and enact his own brand of justice. This sounds pretty straight forward and to an extent it is. However, the run time of 2 hours and 1 minute feels excruciatingly long with subplots thrown in for no reason and a heavy handed attempt to create McCall’s backstory.
When you’re watching a Denzel Washington film you’re guaranteed to watch a good performance and The Equalizer 2 is no different. He is a tremendous actor and he commits to the role and is as ever charismatic and fascinating to watch. But he can’t save this film. There is a silver lining with the side story of local teen Miles (Ashton Sanders who you might recognise from Moonlight) who is an interesting addition. Other than that not a single character leaves an impression on this film. The villains are forgettable and have nothing to distinguish one from the other and the various plot points lurch together with no harmony.
Stylistically there are some interesting choices by Fuqua. The opening sequence is well choreographed and there’s a tense sequence in McCall’s apartment involving a two way mirror that works really well. But these snippets of genius can’t make up for a script that is beneath the director and star. It feels like a chore to get through and the enjoyment of the previous film is absent. Further development into McCall’s character is welcome, but these smatterings of intrigue are counter weighted against overly edited action sequences and a plot that crawls along at a snail’s pace.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★