Antoine Fuqua (director)
2h 1m (length)
16 August 2018 (released)
20 August 2018
Denzel Washington scored a huge box office hit with the first The Equalizer movie, logging over $100 million in the 2014 reboot of the classic '80s TV show, which inspired him to make his first ever sequel in his long career.
In The Equalizer 2, he returns as ex-Marine and former CIA operative Robert McCall, who made a deathbed promise to his wife to leave his violent career behind.
Just as, in the first movie, he was drawn into helping others by using both his investigative and fighting skills, McCall opens the sequel on a train speeding through Turkey as he finds and confronts a man who kidnapped his own daughter, out of spite for his wife. After he quickly dispenses with several henchmen, we see the tender side of McCall as he reunites the child with her mother.
By day he's now an unassuming driver for car service Lyft, and at night McCall is seen beating on a group of young power brokers, who drugged and assaulted a female intern he was called to take home. We see him ferrying around his customers, one of whom is an elderly man trying to retrieve a family painting lost in the war, and going to extreme measures to keep local teenager Miles (Moonlight star Ashton Sanders) out of gang life.
However, a brutal slaying of a family in an apartment in Brussels, Belgium - by a group of thugs who shoot a wife and mother in the head, before shoving the gun in her husband’s mouth to make it look like a murder-suicide - inadvertently gives McCall a new, more personal mission.
The reason given for the horrific double murder, in one of the film's major failings, is never really expanded on, but it sets off a chain of events that sees McCall, the hunter, become the hunted.
With the motive for the family’s killing never fully revealed, the revenge storyline proves to be the weakest part of the plot. It’s barely fleshed out, and the thugs' motives for the Brussels killing never get a credible explanation.
The action, directed by Antoine Fuqua, is well shot, but you do have to suspend a fair amount of belief when you watch an elderly Denzel making light work of a group of men less than half his age, as he delivers his vigilante justice.
The 63-year-old does offer flashes of his immensely watchable on-screen persona in quiet moments shared onscreen with Melissa Leo (who plays old friend Susan Plummer) and Ashton, however, Denzel is wasted in this uber-violent film, which veers heavily into schlocky Liam Neeson territory.
It’s also a rare disappointing turn for Pedro Pascal, who appears wooden and hampered by the lack of attention given in building up his character, Dave York.
While the first movie was concerned with justice, the sequel focuses on naked revenge, which seems rather less altruistic than the original movie.
This is very much an adult film, with the kind of violence that makes you want to look away from the screen. The viewer is put in the position of rooting for a series of graphic killings at Denzel’s hands, and although they are the bad guys, it’s hard to cheer for this kind of rough justice.