The sequel to 2014’s ‘The Equalizer’ really shouldn’t be this good. The script is a little flimsy, the plot is predictable, and the stoic vigilante has been done many, many times before. Like…oh, I dunno….back in 2014.
So WHY is this picture one of the sharpest, ultra-cool action flicks so far this summer? Easy. In a word – Denzel.
Without Denzel Washington, this thing just doesn’t have much of a pulse. But WITH him, director and longtime Washington creative co-hart Antoine Fuqua (‘Training Day’) have a gripping, endlessly entertaining vehicle that could easily take on a few more chapters without complaint. ‘Cause in freelance avenger Robert McCall, we have a character to cheer for, and one so intense in his various missions, that rarely-used edge of the seat gets a bit of a workout.
Based (loosely) on the 1980’s TV series, the first film had Denzel’s McCall working in a hardware store – a setting that, with so many versatile tools to ‘equalize’ bad guys, it was can’t-miss fun. Here, the semi-retired CIA specialist is a Lyft driver. This gives our hero the opportunity to listen on the various struggles of his passengers and, when inspired, do something about various injustices. Which is kinda his thing.
In ‘The Equalizer 2’, in between saving an aspiring artist (Aston Sanders of ‘Moonlight’) from running with street gangs, and assisting a senior Holocaust survivor (Orson Bean), McCall gets caught up in a murder case out of Belgium, a twist that involves former colleagues (Melissa Leo and Pedro Pascal). It’s pretty basic stuff for a crime/drama serving, but again, Washington’s sheer butt-kicking brilliance heaves ‘The Equalizer 2’ far, far above what is, and SHOULD be, a formula action exercise. With Denzel leading the charge and his pal Fuqua at the helm, this is good, good stuff. Gimme more.