Action Crime

Review: ‘The Equalizer 2’ is an Imbalanced Action-Thriller

July 19, 2018Ben MK

When it comes to action movies, 60 is the new 40. And whereas Danny Glover once complained about being "too old for this s**t," it seems the glass ceiling separating the genre's more youthful actors from their pension-aged counterparts has long since been shattered by the broken bodies of bad guy after bad guy.

Enter Denzel Washington, whose 2014 turn as Robert McCall, a former CIA Black Ops soldier turned concerned citizen and part-time vigilante in director Antoine Fuqua's The Equalizer, had the then-59-year-old Oscar-winner following in the footsteps of Liam Neeson, Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger, to name a few. Now, Washington and Fuqua have returned for The Equalizer 2, but despite a somewhat larger scope and an equally unflinching eye for violence and bloody mayhem, this followup is anything but action-packed.

Picking up after the events of its predecessor, this sequel finds Robert having left behind his former job at a hardware store to be his own boss. Sure, the trade-off means that he loses access to all the handy power tools that he used to dispatch the villains with in the first film, but if you think Robert can't turn something as seemingly benign as a credit card into a deadly weapon, think again. Plus, as a Lyft driver, he's never short of the opportunity to get some insight into the lives of the passengers in his backseat, which affords him even more chances to help those in need, such as the mother whose kidnapped daughter he rescues in the movie's prologue.

Things get downright personal for Robert, however, when his nearest and dearest friend, Susan Plummer (Melissa Leo), is ambushed at her hotel and brutally murdered while abroad, prompting him to investigate the circumstances of her death. Of course, no sooner does he begin doing so does he discover that there's a conspiracy afoot, and that his actions are endangering not only his own life, but also the lives of those closest to him, such as his teenage neighbor, an artist named Miles (Moonlight's Ashton Sanders), whom he's taken under his wing.

For what it's worth, The Equalizer 2 can be quite the compelling action-thriller when it wants to be. A perfect example is the film's climax, which takes place in a storm-ravaged Massachusetts seaside town and pits Robert against a group of elite-trained assailants, all while high winds and rain batter the environment around them. Unfortunately, though, moments like those are few and far between, especially during the movie's first two-thirds, which all but threatens to put viewers into a narcoleptic state, as proceedings virtually slow to a crawl while screenwriter Richard Wenk's script explores Robert's benevolence for his community.

Pacing issues aside, though, it's nice to see Washington back in action hero mode, and it's truly a testament to his skills as a dramatic actor that viewers will never once find themselves questioning his ability to put the hurt on his enemies, whether it be with his bare hands or a harpoon. It just feels like a missed opportunity not to have more of these types of scenes in the film; but then again, not all action movies are created equal.

The Equalizer 2 releases July 20th, 2018 from Sony Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of R. Its runtime is 2 hrs. 1 min.

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