The Equalizer 2 - This Second Movie Pretty Much Equals The First One In The Rocks Department
Dir: Antoine Fuqua
Starring Denzel Washington, Ashton Sanders, Melissa Leo, Bill Pullman, Pedro Pascal
Once again proving himself just about the finest screen actor around, Denzel makes his first ever sequel in returning to the role of everyday former CIA special ops expert Robert McCall, a man who wanders the earth solving all those little problems that everyday folk have. Which mostly involves him crunching bones, breaking heads, the odd violent death or two and a few life lessons learnt.
Fuqua’s second stab at equalising society’s ills initially runs the risk of jumping its own shark, with the pre-credit sequence finding Denzel’s McCall on a train in Turkey, in disguise. No, no, no we hear you cry. This man is not a super agent or super hero, he’s your friendly neighbourhood special ops long-believed-dead soldier. However, it’s a corking action sequence, and pretty soon we are back with McCall the cab driver, putting his own world to rights in his Boston neighbourhood. And this is where Fuqua’s movie finds its stride, as we see a series of vignettes from McCall’s life, the people he meets, the lives he touches – interspersed with just enough action courtesy of the rights he wrongs.
Still, the film aims for bigger which proves not to be better – CIA agents (including McCall’s old friend Leo) are being assassinated in Brussels – but we as an audience are far more interested in Denzel's burgeoning relationship with potentially soon-to-be-lost teen Miles (a superb Sanders – the middle one from Moonlight.) Indeed, a central sequence where our hero rescues his protogee from a gang and then confronts him over becoming a gangster is the best written, performed and directed sequence in the whole movie.
And that’s the difficult balance that EQ2 has to contend with. The less showy, more characterful moments are where the film is at its strongest. When it is quieter, it resonates more powerfully – much like its protagonist.
But there is inevitably a need for a major action climax – and the film has portentously been warning us all along that a storm is coming. So when said hurricane hits and McColl must face up to his past in his now abandoned old town (a sequence that plays like a modern windswept western) things inevitably become less interesting, with Denzel/McCall almost getting lost amongst the wind and the bullets.
It may be a slightly disappointing way to go out, but at its best – and its best is based around the work of Washington and Sanders both – the film is suitably gripping.
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