Cast: Denzel Washington, Pedro Pascal, Ashton Sanders, Bill Pullman
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Synopsis from Rotten Tomatoes: Denzel Washington returns to one of his signature roles in the first sequel of his career. Robert McCall serves an unflinching justice for the exploited and oppressed – but how far will he go when that is someone he loves?
This weekend of new releases has really made me miss awards season. Instead of getting groundbreaking films that look to challenge our view of the world, we got three uninspired and risk-free sequels this weekend. The Equalizer 2 happened to be the best of them, but that is not saying much. While Washington is as charismatic as ever in the lead role and the cinematography is elite, especially for an action film, the story is just too shaky and the pacing leads to some fundamental problems in the movie.
The follows Robert McCall (Washington), who continues his actions from the first film and decides to help those in need who cannot help themselves. While all of these tasks are going on, operatives from his old government position start hunting down people who Robert worked with, and it is only a matter of time before they start to go after him and his friends. Whether or not he has the skills to protect them all is what we look to find out. If you put Denzel Washington in a movie, you are almost guaranteed to get a good performance out of him. The man is a true professional in every sense of the word and is one of the few actors where regardless of what they are in, you have to see just because of them. Washington is intense in scenes that require him to be intense, but also shows of his comedic and light-hearted side in a wonderfully charming performance. Regarding the camerawork, I was absolutely blown away by just how smooth and well-crafted the shots were on a routine basis. There is never a moment where the camera is rocking all over the place and we are able to see a wide variety of different angled shots combined with occasional tight shots when necessary. Yes, there are multiple slow-motion sequences, which I typically do not care for, but they do not take away from an otherwise impressive display of cinematography. Where the film lacks though is that the story has some pretty massive issues. There are essentially two storylines going on at the same time. One is about Robert helping those who cannot help themselves and the other is about him being hunted by government operatives. The first movie is exclusively about the first plotline, and while it worked then, seeing another whole movie about it would have been repetitive and potentially boring. By adding in the government plotline, yes you create a series of new conflicts, but that does not mean they are necessary. The two storylines are connected by the thinnest of threads and I never saw the relevance of having the two storylines in the first place. Since these two completely separate storylines hardly ever intersect, the film needed two separate sets of expositions, rising actions, and other essential story elements. This left very little time for the climax, which felt rushed and unimportant. The whole government agent storyline feels very forced and unnatural, and if that is the direction they wanted to go with, it probably could have worked better as a prequel instead. This film felt as though it was in a no-win situation due to how the first one went. Their options appeared to be repeat what worked in the past while risking showing us the same movie twice, or introduce something new that does not fit the style of the character very well. I felt as though some of the characteristics that made the first one unique were lost in this film, but Washington is still Washington, so it cannot be all that bad.
Overall, of all of the uncreative sequels we have seen in the dumping ground that has been July 2018, this is one of the better ones. By no means the best action movie of all time, Equalizer 2 has a few bright spots and your typically strong performance by Washington. This film knows its audience and those people will have a blast with it, but the surprising work from behind the camera make this movie a little bit better than an average action movie.
Overall Score: 5.5/10