Equalizer will not disappoint fans of thrillers and action flicks
If you haven’t seen the original theatrical version of “The Equalizer” – good!
For one, it’s not a required viewing to gain an understanding or appreciation of “The Equalizer 2” – the new sequel to that 2014 release. And secondly, and most importantly, the original film was largely a demented mess – forgettable but for all its unspeakable levels of gory violence.
Its only saving grace was star Denzel Washington, who delivered another one of his usual “impossibly cool” performances. Alas, that film was a box-office success, and thus, here we are with another one.
Mercifully, things feel different somehow this time around. Of course, Washington is back, but so is Director Antoine Fuqua (who directed Washington to a Best Actor Academy Award win in “Training Day”). And Richard Wenk is back as the screenplay writer. Yet, the sequel is much less unrealistic (though still not exactly realistic), and far less cartoonish. Unlike the previous film, you’re less likely to believe you’re watching a rebooted “The Terminator”.
Don’t get me wrong; Washington’s Robert McCall is still a mysterious and elusive badass. But he’s much less of a freak, or a comic-book superhero character, and much more human-like and actually likable.
So, if you have a problem and there is nowhere else to turn, McCall will still deliver the vigilante justice you seek. This time, however, McCall’s past cuts especially close to home when thugs kill Susan Plummer (Melissa Leo) – his best friend and former colleague. Now out for revenge, McCall must take on a crew of highly trained assassins who’ll stop at nothing to destroy him.
“The Equalizer 2” is still quite violent, with gross-out, cover-your eyes, OMG-he-didn’t-just-do-that levels of punishment, particularly in the final scenes. But the performances from a few key members of the cast go a long way to making this a bit more than just a shoot-em-up thriller.
You’ll wish for more screen time for the always-strong, Oscar-winning Leo (“The Fighter”). And Ashton Sanders, last seen as the teenage version of the lead character in the Oscar-winning “Moonlight”, is once again showing he’s got a promising career ahead.
There are some odd secondary storylines that are meant to further humanize the McCall character. However, these seem largely superfluous. And to be honest, the overall plot is predictable. Nevertheless, for the most part, fans of thrillers and action flicks won’t be disappointed.
But of course, the most compelling argument for the existence of “The Equalizer 2” at all is Washington. He is still the primary reason to watch. This time, he’s in a film that tries much harder to equally match his performance.
- Dwight Strachan is the host/producer of “ Morning Blend” on Guardian Radio. He is a television producer and writer, and an avid TV history and film buff. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on twitter @morningblend969.