In a summer of endless sequels, Equalizer 2 has the distinction of being unoriginal and predictable. It stimulates that part of your brain that likes to see things go boom and bad guys get pummeled, while allowing the part of your brain that likes to solve things and seek intellectual depth go nappy time.
It also has a little guy named Denzel Washington in it, supplying his every line with grace and punching up the quality of a rote script tenfold simply by being on screen. He and director Antoine Fuqua team up once again and make the sequel to a cinematic update of an OK TV show well worth your time. It’s fast food, but it’s good fast food.
Washington returns as Robert McCall, former special ops guy with a taste for vigilantism and tea. He’s just sort of hanging out in Boston, working as a Lyft driver and painting over graffiti at his apartment complex, when word comes in that a good friend has bit the dust at the hands of mystery killers. Robert doesn’t like it when you kill his friends. Robert doesn’t like that much at all. In fact, it’s fair to say Robert will do bad things to your body for such acts.
He goes on a search for the killer/killers, and you will probably figure out who the bad people are fairly quickly. Equalizer 2 isn’t worried about tricking you with any mysteries. It wants to set up some scenarios for McCall’s vicious showdowns with bad folks, and Fuqua does this multiple times with bloody action gusto.
Sequences include a dust up on a train in Turkey, with McCall in full bearded costume, calmly drinking his tea before disposing of multiple attackers in the most improbable yet totally badass sort of way. (Does the teapot become a weapon? Why, yes, yes, it does!) There’s also a shootout in a hurricane, reminiscent of Harrison Ford’s showdown at the end of Patriot Games. Fuqua makes them all pop in a way that improves upon his work in the first film.
This time out, McCall comes off as a combination of Michael Myers of Halloween and Batman. He’s almost supernatural in his abilities to disarm and dispatch his victims. Doesn’t matter how many guns, hammers and blades are coming at him, he’s going to win. There’s a lot of knife play in this movie, so if you have a hard time with cinematic stabbings, this one is not for you. It sometimes plays like a slasher film. Balancing out the nasty violence, Washington plays the role with as much finesse as he does those in the Oscar-nominated efforts of his. He’s just so damned cool.
There are other people in this movie, like Melissa Leo, Pedro Pascal and Ashton Sanders (Moonlight). They all do serviceable work but, let’s face it, they all need to shut up and get out of the way so the almighty Washington can orate and kick ass. Many of the people in this film are just around to have their noses broken, necks twisted and fingers pulled apart.
There were a couple of plot threads that, quite honestly, could’ve been dropped, although McCall’s fatherly relationship to Sanders’ character is one of the better parts of the film. Sanders plays Miles, a wannabe art student who dabbles in gang activity. Washington and Sanders have some good screen time together.
Back when the first Equalizer came out, I openly asked for it to become a franchise. With this, Washington’s first participation in a sequel of any kind, I got my wish. It’s everything that garbage remake of Death Wish wanted to be. The way this one finishes, it feels like it could be the last. No need to stop. Ω