“The Equalizer 2” is the first sequel of Denzel Washington’s career. He told Jimmy Kimmel that the script was good enough for the film to be made (unlike “Inside Man 2”, which he said didn’t make any sense at all).
The first “Equalizer” was hit-and-miss, but it clearly had franchise potential. “The Equalizer 2” is a slightly deeper treatment, though the overdone slasher-style ultra-violence is still present.
“EQ2” sees Robert McCall answering the call – actually many calls. He’s now a Lyft driver in Boston. Washington has admitted he’s never used Lyft in real-life. Yet he seems comfortable embodying the modern-day taxi driver persona. This is just more proof of why he’s one of the greatest actors of the day.
When McCall sees a wrong that needs to be righted, he acts quickly. And he always likes to tie-up loose ends. That’s the central theme of “The Equalizer 2”. Whether it’s a close friend (such as investigator Susan, played by Melissa Leo) or the woman who owns his favorite bookstore in danger, McCall jumps into action. His goals? Right a wrong – and make the bad guys pay. That’s no easy task, but McCall always makes it look so easy.
And that’s the biggest problem with this character and these films: McCall is too good at what he does. There’s no suspense when he squares-off against various foes – whether it’s inside a drug house, while he’s giving someone a Lyft or in a New England beach town being hammered by a hurricane (Fuqua must’ve amassed the largest wind machine bill in movie history). There’s never a doubt that McCall will win.
It’s the calmer, more human elements of “The Equalizer 2” that work best, including a nice relationship between McCall and Miles (“Moonlight”’s Ashton Sanders), a neighborhood kid McCall is trying to keep out of trouble. One scene in particular should be required viewing for all teenagers – as they debate which path in life they should choose.
In the end, whether you’re entertained or bored by “EQ2” (I was right down the middle), there’s one thing that’s undebatable: no matter what character Denzel Washington plays – regardless of the genre – he rarely disappoints. And once again here it’s Washington who compels us to stay with this highly predictable, uninspired story to the end, even though we know exactly how everything’s going to play-out long before the final scene.
On The Official LCJ Report Card, “The Equalizer 2” gets a C+.
Running Time: 121 min.