Ex-government assassin Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) takes it upon himself to right the wrongs of those who have been exploited. He spends his days driving a Lyft around making chance encounters with people. When one of those people is in need he will go to any length to dispense justice. His brand of justice is brutal and swift but he always give the oppressors the chance to redeem themselves. He does this for people passing though his life but when his best friend, and one of the only former colleges to know his alive, Susan Plummer (Melissa Leo) is killed while on an investigation he sets out to dispatch vengeance rather than justice. He will stop at nothing to find out why his friend was murdered and eliminate those responsible. Robert must first reveal that he is still alive to his former partner Dave York (Pedro Pascal) so he can have access to the investigation. Once he has access the pair will try and find the killers and exact revenge. That is before the killers find them.
This film is the follow up to 2014’s The Equalizer. It returns both Washington and Leo as well as Director Antoine Fuqua (Shooter, South Paw) and Writer Richard Wenk (Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, 16 Blocks) and Bill Pullman, as Brian Plummer. The action scenes in the beginning of the film are really well done. Maybe a spoiler here so caution, the climatic fight scene at the end is less well done and because it is set in a hurricane a lot of it is blurry and hard to follow. It puts you in the setting of the weather but because the action is hand to hand you can really miss a lot of what is going on. It didn’t really work for me personally. The story started out really how I expected and followed the first films story of McCall helping out those who had no other options. This part felt very much like the first film but not redundant. However, it really slowed down when it got into the main story of the film. This part really seemed overly predictable and unoriginal. You, or rather I, could see how the entire movie was laid out and the inevitable conclusion with very few plot twist. This made pace of the film is tough for me. Really action packed at the beginning and then really slow drawn out drama in the middle.
On its own this film is an okay movie. One of many action/crime/mystery films that are made each year. It didn’t really do a good job of distinguishing itself from the rest of the genre. But fans of this type of movie can enjoy how it is heartfelt and warm at times and bloody and action packed at others. The end I discussed above I was not a fan of. Also there is the issue of when you compare it to the original film it really is lacking some key things that the made the first film a success. The villain in this film really leaves something to be desired while the first film had a pretty good antagonist. The pace of the first film was much better and the story flowed more naturally. Sometimes it is really hard to recreate something and I think this film falls way short.
2 out of 5
Second review by Ryan Guerra
Denzel Washington returns to the character Robert McCall for his first ever sequel in the Equalizer 2. He is an ex-spy/operative who helps less fortunate people who are being wronged or taken advantage of. McCall is an honorable man who often works towards guiding young people to making good choices and improving their lives. This type of honorable man with skills helping those less fortunate is what made the original Equalizer (2014) a surprise hit for Washington. Plus, let’s face it, Washington is by far the “coolest” character on screen in this movie. Fans of the the first film and Washington himself will not be disappointed with his performance. Nor anyone else’s as overall the film is acted well throughout.
For me, the drawback of the film is that if feels disjointed. It is like they wanted to keep what worked in the first film, but also wanted to tell a “bigger” story where McCall has more formidable opposition. And well, it doesn’t work all that well. The first film is was a great story because it was a “small” story. McCall is basically a one man A-team, helping the less fortunate which makes him likeable. They attempt to set up a similar “small” story here as McCall helps a neighborhood kid make better choices. However the plot device of the Equalizer 2 is that McCall’s friend is killed and he is ultimately out for revenge. And this is where the film feels disjointed. Yes we understand his motivation, however it doesn’t feel earned and it seems out of character. For example, he helps random strangers he drives around as a Lyft driver, however he wants revenge which will result in widowing a friendly woman and having her two small children to grow up without their father? It doesn’t seem like something his character would do and it isn’t earned by the film explaining the significance of his loss or need for revenge. It just seems like he caught in the middle of someone trying to tie up loose ends.
Additionally, the film bounces back and forth with him helping the neighborhood kid and his revenge story until they predictably (and unnecessarily) converge. Which at times causes some slow pacing problems, as neither story is fully committed to as a motivation for the plot to move forward. After all, the revenge portion is not really revealed until the third act, however the significance of that revenge is brushed over to focus on helping the neighborhood kid, which isn’t really relevant to his revenge motivation.
That being said, the action sequences in this film are fast and exciting. McCall is lethal and he shows why he is able to help anyone he deems worthy with his particular set of violence skills.
In the end, I felt the Equalizer 2 is not a bad film. Denzel Washington and the rest of the cast all do a terrific job with their performances and McCall is overall a likable character. However for me it fell short in the disjointed plot which caused some pacing issues. Overall, it’s a rental, or at best a matinee.
3 out of 5 stars.