Denzel Washington and director Antoine Fuqua reunite for their fourth collaboration, The Equalizer 2. The sequel of 2014’s The Equalizer finds Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) enjoying his daytime job as a Lyft driver. Robert is revered in his community. Whether he’s talking to friends in the community or providing a Holocaust survivor with free Lyft rides around town, it’s easy to see why he is so well-liked. By night, Robert dispatches his own brand of justice to evildoers.
The Equalizer 2 opens with Robert stopping a kidnapping aboard a train using his signature “stopwatch method.” After another remarkable action sequence where Robert gets justice for a rape victim, The Equalizer 2’s plot kicks into high gear. Susan Plummer (Melissa Leo), Robert’s former handler and a terrific friend, is murdered while investigating a murder-suicide. Robert’s intuition tells him there’s more to Susan’s death, particularly when Robert discovers mistakes in the official police report. With assistance from his former partner, Dave (Pedro Pascal), Robert decides to avenge Susan’s death.
Antoine Fuqua crafts the action sequence at a breakneck speed. While watching, I had a smile on my face the entire time. The scenes with Robert and an at-risk youth Miles (Ashton Sanders), who is trying to stay on the straight and narrow, are some of the more heart-warming moments in the film. In his first role since Moonlight, Sanders was quite impressive and holds his own in his scenes with Denzel.
It’s hard to believe that Denzel Washington has never acted in a sequel in his thirty-seven-year film career. However, as I look back on Denzel’s career, Robert McCall is the one character who is worthy of a sequel. While most actors would portray a character that they’ve played before on autopilot, Denzel brings a freshness to McCall that wasn’t present in the first movie. While we don’t learn too much about Robert’s past, his eyes show Robert as a tortured soul who has seen his share of bloodshed. The script by Richard Wenk doesn’t need to delve into Robert’s history since it’s already established that Robert is a widower.
The Equalizer 2 is an enjoyable ride. I do have a few criticisms. For starters, there isn’t really an enjoyable villain in the film that proves to be formidable for Robert. While it’s fun to watch Robert take out bad guys with ease, I would’ve enjoyed seeing Robert have his hands full with one of his opponents. When we do find out who the main villain is, it doesn’t come off as a surprise. There were many angles that Richard Wenk’s script could’ve taken; instead, it’s a reveal that most moviegoers will be able to predict.
Despite a few script issues, The Equalizer 2 lives up to the original film. Denzel Washington and Antoine Fuqua have an excellent working relationship, and it shows. Fuqua’s direction of Washington is excellent. Fuqua still knows how to direct an action sequence that is believable. The film’s finale is full of eye-candy moments that action junkies will love. The Equalizer 2 is left open for a third adventure involving Robert McCall, but until we get a third film, The Equalizer 2 is an equal sequel worthy of a trip to your local theater.
Final Grade: B