Film Review: The Equalizer 2

In this movie Denzel Washington plays former DIA operative Robert McCall, who works as a Lyft driver by day and spends his spare time righting wrongs, normally by smacking about bad guys. The character is a man who lives by routines, liking things to follow the plan he sets out. You get the feeling the character would like this movie as it’s quite a routine affair.

equalizer 2 pos

That’s not to say it’s not entertaining but it’s quite predictable.

McCall’s old boss, Susan (Melissa Leo) comes to visit him, checking in on what would have been McCall’s late wife’s birthday. She then heads off to Belgium where a former agency asset has been whacked, although it’s been staged like he killed his wife and then himself. While there she’s attacked and killed herself, seemingly by robbers.

McCall smells a rat and digs deeper, finding flaws in the story. He approaches old agency buddy Dave (Pedro Pascal), who was with Susan in Belgium and who is leading the investigation into her death. With Dave inside the agency and McCall working on the outside can they bring Susan’s killers to justice? And how is the Agency involved in all of this?

Here’s the thing, halfway through this way, WoM turned to me and predicted a twist. She was right, but it wasn’t that hard to spot. And that’s the problem, a lot of the story beats here feel very generic.

But it manages to get away with it. Just.

This is largely due to Washington, who continues to be one of the most watchable on screen premises around. Even in his quiet moments he holds the attention and despite the quiet nature of the character his charisma is still there and he wholly convinces as the badass vigilante. The problem is that the whole film hinges on his performance, with many of the other characters being rather dull and underwritten. Bill Pullman rocks up as an old friend, but doesn’t do much and the villainous hit squad are largely anonymous. Only one stands out, and that’s only because he has a giant beard.

It’s disappointing that despite the charisma he showed in Game of Thrones that Pedro Pascal is so bland here. His character is never given any interesting touches or quirks, and just feels like a typical agency suit. Pretty much any actor could step into his shoes and it feels like a waste.

As well as Washington’s magnetic presence, the other thing keeping this film afloat are a couple of sweet subplots that highlight McCall’s urge to help those in need. These films offer a softer side to the action, which is pretty brutal when it arrives. The fights here are largely fast, no frills affairs similar to the Bourne films, but with the added aspect of having McCall often plan out his attacks or quickly take in his surroundings before. There are some bone crunching moments that’ll make you wince and a fantastic sequence where McCall fends off an assassin while driving.

Director Antoine Fuqua handles the action well enough and keeps the film moving along at a good pace, and I especially liked the simple but effective use of an approaching storm to mirror and heighten the plot’s tension. There’s a low rumble of thunder in a few early scenes, and throughout the film we get weather reports and gathering clouds to up the tension. Then in the final act the hurricane arrives at the same time as the climactic showdown, with McCall using the conditions to his advantage when outnumbered.

It’s entertaining enough to pass the time, but it feels like a good place to end the franchise and there’s nothing new here. Denzel Washington relies on his natural magnetic presence to carry the whole film off, and while he does so, it’s disappointing that everything around him feels so humdrum.

Verdict: The action is good, and there are a few good scenes, but a formulaic plot and uninteresting supporting characters mean that this underwhelms. Washington is predictably solid, but it’s nothing special. 6/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

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