Screenplay by Richard Wenk
Directed by Antoine Fuqua
Starring: Denzel Washinton, Pedro Pascal, Ashton Sanders, Bill Pullman, Melissa Leo
You’d better make sure Robert McCall gets a five-star rating. That’s the first thing I’d say about the sequel to 2014’s ‘The Equalizer’ which I myself had not seen, although I knew well of its violent reputation. Denzel Washington is Robert McCall, alias the Equalizer, an ex CIA hitman and avid reader with a loaded past and a holistic sense for active social justice. After a friend is killed McCall will stop at nothing, as you would expect, until he has dealt out death and judgement.
While the thrust of the story has little more to it than that, there is a degree of poise to Fuqua’s films that I enjoy. With his take on ‘the Magnificent Seven’ I was pleasantly surprised and ‘The Equalizer 2’ gave me the same feeling.
I can’t recall leaving one of Mr Washington’s films disappointed and this is no exception. He holds you, the viewer, in this film as he always does. Effortlessly, it seems, he has a way of taking you with him. He doesn’t act, he commands attention. Richard Wenk’s screenplay certainly gave him the opportunity to deliver some particularly amusing moments.
‘The Equalizer 2’ is certainly tense where it needs to be and you really feel for many of the characters, albeit through enjoyable earlier scenes and grounded subplots. The main thread of the story seemed strangely intangible and wooden, the only thing holding this film back from greatness. I didn’t find the climax overly violent so much as mechanical. It was as if it was going through the motions of a great tough guy story, without delivering the same heart found elsewhere in the movie.
What is interesting about this film is in some ways it feels like an old western, with a moral and virtuous loner combating repugnant killers acting beyond the law. What I think is missing though is a touch of that Shane-like poignancy that a film like this could have had with very little further refinement. Nonetheless, it is definitely an engaging and enjoyable ride, just like McCall’s hire car driving.
After ensuring it holds my attention, the biggest test in my mind for a film like this is whether I find it believable within its story world. Here Fuqua delivers in spades in that the action sequences are tangible and tense, a far cry from the latest Die Hard or those god awful films with giant CGI robots and very serious looking hot people.
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