The Equalizer 2
Updated: Jul 11, 2021
Denzel Washington has a pretty amazing presence about him. He can switch between charming and intimidating at the drop of a hat. That skill is put to the test in The Equalizer 2 where Washington plays Robert McCall, a former government assassin who now spends his time defending victimized strangers. One moment he seems friendly and harmless, the next he is viciously snapping a bad guy’s arm. If anyone can pull off the role of a man who lurks on the edge of society, violently punishing those who prey on the innocent, and make him likable, it is Washington. The fact that he almost does speaks much more to his abilities as an actor than it does the quality of this film.
The Equalizer 2 and its predecessor, 2014’s The Equalizer, are based off of a CBS drama of the same name which aired from 1985-89. In all three, McCall puts his talents to use helping those with no other options. The first entry in the cinematic franchise did a good job of setting up McCall’s personality, as well as his relationship with a young prostitute, before it devolved into repetitive, brutal violence. It was assisted immensely by strong performances from Washington and Chloë Grace Moretz. It was okay, but succeeded enough at the box-office to justify a sequel. Unfortunately, the filmmakers threw away the few elements that made the original watchable.
The plot, concerning McCall’s quest for revenge after a friend’s death, does not kick in until about forty minutes into The Equalizer 2’s interminable 116 minute run time (minus the end credits). In place of intrigue, the first third consists of pointless scenes of him driving for Lyft and a couple of instances of him sticking up for those unable to stick up for themselves. None of this is interesting. Neither is the half-baked plot once it finally gets started.
Since none of the other characters are developed, that leaves Washington’s performance and the action to try to keep viewers entertained. But the action is as lazy and uninspired as the plotting. It is not thrilling, surprising or particularly well-staged. For the majority of the story, McCall just thrusts himself into a situation with little to no explanation. Because there is rarely a clear sense of exactly why he needs to do what he is doing, it becomes only violence for the sake of violence.
The Equalizer 2 is boring, overlong and entirely uninvolving. Every bit of it is a time-waster, utterly lacking in fun. It is a series of conversations without a point and action sequences without meaning. Though it was not necessarily good, the original at least allowed Washington to play the character. This follow-up strips him of all nuance, turning him into a quirky avenging angel. Then, it completely fails to give him anything compelling to do. Incredibly, Washington had never made a sequel before this movie and I have no idea why he decided to make this his first. It certainly could not have been because of the screenplay. As great of an actor as Denzel Washington is, even he is incapable of salvaging this mess.
1¼ out of 5
Denzel Washington as Robert McCall
Melissa Leo as Susan Plummer
Bill Pullman as Brian Plummer
Ashton Sanders as Miles Whittaker
Pedro Pascal as Dave York
Sakina Jaffrey as Fatima
Orson Bean as Sam Rubinstein
Directed by Antoine Fuqua
Written by Richard Wenk