Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Movie Review: The Equalizer 2 (2018)


An action thriller, The Equalizer 2 is a solid second chapter in the story of a troubled ex-government killer who now works on his own terms.

Former Special Forces operative Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) eliminates a band of thugs on a train in Turkey, returning an abducted American child to her mother. Now working as a Lyft driver in Boston and still grieving the loss of his wife, McCall next tangles with a group of men who nonchalantly abused and drugged an escort. At his apartment complex, McCall takes aspiring artist Miles (Ashton Sanders) under his wing and tries to steer him away from a life of crime.

Meanwhile, in Belgium, a deep undercover American agent is killed along with his wife. McCall's close friend Susan Plummer (Melissa Leo) is sent to investigate on behalf of the CIA. She is soon in trouble, and McCall teams up with his former colleague ex-agent Dave York (Pedro Pascal) to investigate and dole out his unique brand of justice.

Again directed by Antoine Fuqua, The Equalizer 2 does not stray far from the original, which makes it both comfortably entertaining and just as comfortably predictable. This is a good quality film with excellent action scenes and plenty of space and time allocated for introspection and side-plots, but it never threatens to surprise.

Washington is by far the best thing on show, and his sheer presence and unflappable demeanour maintain a high degree of interest. Fuqua allows his star critical opportunities to reminisce about his past life and lost love, and McCall as a rounded and emotionally wounded character is so much more gratifying when he lets his anger loose. The Equalizer 2 is the first sequel project ever for both Washington and Fuqua, and their level of care for the central character is evident.

Helping matters along are several small stories enriching McCall's character. The episode in Turkey, the drugged escort, the old man droning on about his missing sister and his stolen painting, and the Miles salvation project all add texture and a mostly welcome warmth to the proceedings. However, the incidental chapters do pad the running time towards the upper limit of what is tolerable, the film clocking in at a flabby two hours.

The core plot starts with the brutal assassination in Belgium and culminates in McCall seeking cold revenge on those who have wronged Susan. The vigilante theme is as worn out as it sounds, and neither Fuqua's often clever visuals nor Washington's silky delivery can reinvent it. The bad guys are easy to guess and utterly lacking in personality.

The Equalizer 2 hits most of its targets, but most of them already carry the old bullet marks of many previous not dissimilar efforts.






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