Director: Antoine Fuqua
Writer: Richard Wenk
Starring: Denzel Washington, Pedro Pascal, Aston Sanders
Robert McCall (Washington) lives a low-key life happily branding his own form of secret justice for those in need and have no one else to help them. However, when his best friend and former colleague is killed, this time it gets personal!
It is quite unbelievable that this is actually the first time in his distinguished career as one of Hollywood’s most consistent and successful leading men that Denzel has starred in a sequel. He seems to me to be an actor of integrity, so I am sure has returned to his role of Robert McCall because he cares for the character. Let’s face it; who wouldn’t want to play a character that is an everyman with seeming unlimited money (when the plot requires it) that effortlessly brands vigilante justice to those that deserve it without even breaking a sweat, let alone actually bleeding! If there is anyone other than Tom Cruise who is a perfect fit for this role, then it has to be the always in control Denzel Washington!
In terms of its overall plot, The Equalizer 2 and its predecessor are just the same as any other action film, and a film with exactly the same plot, but with a lesser known leading man and a smaller budget, would probably be a straight to DVD action b movie. However, thankfully it does feel that Denzel and director Antoine Fuqua (who often seem to bring the best out of each other) know this and so can then focus on the little details that give the film the much-needed substance (apart from Denzel’s very weighty screen gravitas) as well as giving us some unashamedly nasty, 15 certificate violence.
Both Denzel’s character and the film’s main plots and subplots are of course hideously clichéd and predictable, but thanks to Denzel’s class and experience as an actor he gives us these small, blink-and-you’ll-miss-them touches to these scenes that make them very satisfying. Indeed, The Equalizer 2 is actually slightly unique from its other countless genre counterparts in that its subplots almost get as much coverage combined as the film’s main plot. So, we have Denzel helping to get a child that has been cruelly taken away from her mother by her abusive husband, a young neighbour that is in risk of taking a very violent path in life, an old man searching for his long-lost sister or a young intern who has been sexually abused by her yuppy superiors in their swanky flat – no issue is too small for Denzel! Each of these subplots are given enough time and focus so that they bring a certain amount of narrative satisfaction, even if we know exactly how they are going to pan out.
Director Antoine Fuqua also is at his best when working with Denzel and puts together some very well-staged action set-pieces. In the first film Denzel worked in a DIY store and that was put to good to use, well now he is a taxi driver of sorts, and once again we get an action sequence involving his current chosen occupation. Instead of the usual mindless carnage and bullets flying everywhere what we often get from action films, Fuqua puts together action sequences that involve far less people for Denzel to annihilate, but instead focuses on creating a mood and atmosphere, and for the film’s final action sequence does this very well.
All throughout the narrative there is talk of a very powerful hurricane coming, and as the narrative develops the winds get stronger leading to the film’s finale in a town that has been abandoned due to the hurricane. Though I think even a mention of any kind of ‘storm is coming’ metaphor probably gives them film more credit than it deserves, the howling wind, swirling rain and roaring waves do create an effectively atmospheric final action set piece.
As with any film of this kind, the casting is equally both the film’s biggest asset and biggest problem. For all his charisma, gravitas and unshakeable stoicism, the fact a character is played by Denzel Washington is almost a superpower in its own right, and this does lead to not only an air of predictability to the very well-stage action set pieces and most crucially a lack of any real sense of danger. There is an admirable effort to try to bring a bit more of a sense of danger to the final set piece in which a character from one of the subplots is involved, but no matter what seemingly impossible and insurmountable obstacles are placed in front of our protagonist, that fact is that he is played by Denzel Washington means we can essentially figure out what is going to happen. Though this makes the film very watchable, it also means there is a lack of true engagement, and so overall making The Equalizer 2 quite a forgettable watch.
In fact, I am not sure why I have even bothered with this review I should have just written “this is an action blockbuster starring Denzel Washington as the leading character”, after that the review pretty much writes itself!
The Equalizer 2 is an action blockbuster starring Denzel Washington as the leading character. Enough said!