Reel Reviews | The Equalizer 2

by Monica Hayes

For the first time in his career, Denzel Washington has returned to an earlier role teaming up with Antoine Fuqua as Robert McCall in The Equalizer 2.

When we last saw McCall (Denzel Washington), he was battling the Russian mob in efforts of helping Alina (Chloë Grace Moretz) out of a bad situation. Now, almost four years later, McCall is still covertly helping people while posing as a Lyft driver. In the opening scenes, McCall is on a Turkish train trying to stop a kidnapping. When McCall informs the kidnapper as to why he is traveling to Istanbul, the kidnapper walks to the car door, locks it then gives the signal to his goons to take him out. McCall sees this and clicks his stopwatch. The rest is history. Next time we see McCall, he is walking into his favorite bookstore and whom does he see sitting behind the counter? The little girl he rescued.

McCall goes about his daily life as the unsuspecting Lyft driver picking up and dropping off passengers. Every day at the same time, he picks up Sam (Orson Bean), an elderly man hell-bent on retrieving a stolen family painting of his sister lost after the Nazi invasion during WWII to take him to the copy shop. When not driving, he spends his day helping the neighborhood and his neighbors. He has created a special bond with Miles (Aston Sanders), a young kid from around the way. Miles is in art school and is a talented painter, but like most kids, his age is on a path that will lead him to an early grave and McCall is trying to show there is a better way. Everything seems quiet until his dear friend Susan (Melissa Leo) was killed while investigating an apparent murder-suicide in Brussels. When he hears the news, Robert jumps into action to find out what really happened. What he finds out sends him on a path of destruction and revenge – and oh, how sweet it is.

In their second movie together, director Antoine Fuqua and Washington can claim another victory because The Equalizer 2 is better than the original. When we first met the mysterious McCall in the original, we see a man who is very reserved, quiet and keeps to himself but always has an encouraging word. What we didn’t know then, but we do know, is that he had a past and a certain set of skills that he promised his late wife to never use again. The Equalizer left us with only a small glimpse into McCall’s world. It never answered why he decided to do what he does, or the burning question of how did his wife die. Scriptwriters Richard Wenk and Michael Sloan (who happened to write for the original television series) dove deeper into his past to give us a little more information about the man McCall used to be. Not much, but just a bit more.

In The Equalizer, we got hooked. In The Equalizer 2, they give us just enough information to keep butts in the seats and us intrigued. This time around, Wenk and Sloan deliver a story that is darker and grittier that gives Washington an opportunity to explore his dark side. Now don’t get me wrong, the plot of The Equalizer 2 is nothing new. It is your typical “you killed my master” or “you killed my friend and now I must avenge their death” story we’ve seen time and time again. Especially, if you’re from the old school and you watched Kung-Fu and shoot’em up movies on Saturdays. It is still fun to watch Washington break from his normal fluffy good guy role and just go straight dark gangster. I swear there are times when he channeled his inner Jason Voorhees.

Do I really need to expound on the acting? Denzel brings his prowess to a franchise that would just be “ok” with any other actor. Think about it. If Fuqua had cast another actor as McCall, we probably would not be having a The Equalizer 2 conversation. To give an example, there is a scene where Robert goes to find Miles and drags him out of a situation that would only end badly. That interaction and dialog between them was so intense, and so breathtaking that you really feel like McCall is pleading with this young man to make the right choices in life. Denzel just brings out the best in every person he comes in contact with. Could it have been done by someone else, sure, but would it have the same energy? Probably not.

If you liked the action in the original, The Equalizer 2 stepped it up and took it to another level. The silent takedowns, gunplay, hand to hand and stunts action are just amazing. With that said, there are some “yeah right” moments. I know it is a movie, and a Denzel Washington movie to boot. However, how is it that during a hurricane, on the coastal island where waves are crashing onto the shores and the tide is flooding the streets, how is it that every bad guy is soaked and Denzel is bone dry? LOL Hey, it is what it is.

Overall, this is a no-brainer. You have a good story, betrayal, revenge, action and Denzel all rolled up into one. Sit tight, because there will be a The Equalizer 3.

Grade B+