While I knew The Equalizer came out in 2004 I never saw it. Even with being a Denzel fan (like most people) it just never really interested me. But after talking to some friends before the press screening I had some interest going in to the sequel. I mean, what isn’t enticing about Denzel Washington being a badass? Well, I got to see it, and now I’m happy to share with you about it. So let’s get to the review, shall we?
The story of The Equalizer 2 follows Robert McCall (Washington) who is a former special ops badass who is supposed to be dead. In his secret ‘afterlife’ state he has become a guy who fights for the downtrodden who can’t help themselves. He has one friend from his old life that knows he’s alive, Susan Plummer (Melissa Leo). Unfortunately her work for the government ends up getting her killed. As such Robert won’t rest until he figures out who killed her and gets vengeance on them.
We have to get the basics out of the way which is that Denzel Washington really makes this movie work. He is one of the most talented men in Hollywood, and he proves it here as he delivers action and charisma. If you like Denzel, then you’ll likely enjoy this. He’s joined in the cast by Pedro Pascal as Dave York, his old special forces buddy who was partnered with Susan before she died. Pascal really does a good job with his character and makes for someone very relatable. Leo is good as ever here, but she’s also in it so very little it feels a bit of a waste. Her husband is played by Bill Pullman who also doesn’t get much. Honestly the last character that isn’t an afterthought is Ashton Sanders as Miles. He’s a teen that McCall takes a shine to, but he becomes a big part of the film and shows a lot of charisma which helped things move.
You can’t talk about The Equalizer 2 without talking about its director, the talented Antoine Fuqua. Fuqua is probably best known for Training Day, and its become clear over his career that he can really direct action. If there is one place this film excels that isn’t Denzel, its the action. The fights are cleanly shot and choreographed, and they are fast and brutal like a skilled fighter would do. One that really stands out for me is a car scene that feels kinetic and brutal. Also, the performances he gets from his stars are all really solid to good. There are some plot contrivances, including a certain weapon used as a big part of the last fight that doesn’t make any sense with environmental factors….let’s just say when you see it you’ll know. But they’re minor gripes for an action movie with a strong lead and that handles its action well.
The Equalizer 2 isn’t a masterpiece of action or anything like that, but its a well constructed and shot one. For a summer action movie you frequently get far worse. This was a good time and some action I’d like to revisit later. Also of note, the last fight takes place in what is actually my home town! Anyone from that area should recognize it from the first shot of the town, and its kinda awesome for me!