The Equalizer 2
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Starring: Denzel Washington, Pedro Pascal, Ashton Sanders, Bill Pullman, and Melissa Leo
The avenging hero is a classic cinematic archetype that has been represented as a lone samurai, a silent gunslinger, and a vigilante law enforcer; it’s a character that functions to offer that satisfactory pleasure of watching terrible people find their comeuppance with violent, brutal actions. These kind of heroes come in all shapes and sizes, and watching them in all their different formats can be either a tedious lesson in gratuitous violence or an intriguing insight into the composition of human behavior and emotion. The film catalog of director Antoine Fuqua is spotted with these characters, Mr. Fuqua even offered his version of the classic vigilante posse film with the remake of the seminal western “The Magnificent Seven”.
Denzel Washington returns for his fourth outing with Fuqua with “The Equalizer 2”, the follow-up about a justice seeking loner who can disassemble an entire room of bad guys while keeping track of time on his wrist watch. “The Equalizer” was a film that worked mostly because of its simplistic approach to the story and because it was fronted by the talent of Denzel Washington who can make any movie better. “The Equalizer 2” offers another dedicated performance but struggles with making a story worth returning for.
Robert “Mac” McCall (Denzel Washington) has transitioned to another town, taking up occupation as a Lyft driver. On the daily Mac transports people around the city, hearing different happy moments of their lives but also encountering some pretty terrible people along the way, most of these encounters don’t end well for the terrible people. Mac helps the people in his apartment complex, specifically a young man named Miles (Ashton Sanders) who is being coerced into joining the local gang. Tragedy strikes as Mac’s old friend is killed, leading him to track down the killers responsible.
Vigilante films are structured fairly similarly, however it’s not so much the story that makes these films interesting but rather the character that moves the film into intriguing territory. Characters like Mac in this film, The Bride from “Kill Bill”, Jack Carter from “Get Carter”, Travis Bickle from “Taxi Driver”, or Sanjuro from “Yojimbo” are all different kinds of justice seekers, each with different moral compasses. Denzel Washington composes this character here with a rigid structure, the character is a man with a code and it’s that design that makes him interesting to a large point.
The narrative with “The Equalizer 2” overstuffs the storylines, adding side stories that range from interesting to unnecessary. The story with a young artist named Miles offers the best moments and insight into Mac’s rigorous code. Still, the narrative seems to be trying for too much; this hurts the pacing of the film in spots, leaving it hindered with dull moments. There are still some very interesting moments throughout the film, specifically the relationship with Mac and Miles and of course when the avenger is left to bring havoc to the bad guys.
There are few unnecessary technical flares incorporated into the film; an annoying first person video game perspective takes all the suspense out of a late scene and the atmospheric overload of wind and rain in the final battle makes it hard to distinguish what is going on.
“The Equalizer 2” doesn’t always work in creating the kind of story that will compliment an interesting character like the one here. Denzel Washington is consistently engaging in the role; when given the opportunity to function as purely an adrenaline fueled action film with, the film eventual comes to life.
3.00 out of 5.00