UK Release Date: 17th August 2018
Runtime: 121 minutes
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Writer: Richard Wenk
Starring: Denzel Washington, Ashton Sanders, Melissa Leo, Pedro Pascal, Bill Pullman, Sakina Jaffrey, Orson Bean
Synopsis: When someone close to him is killed, McCall investigates a wide-ranging conspiracy that ultimately puts him at risk as well.
It would take someone with a much better memory than me to recall the plot of the first Equalizer movie, which arrived in cinemas back in 2014. The movie was a blandly formulaic action tale, which saw Denzel Washington‘s protagonist decide to turn vigilante and take up the titular mantle. Nobody was in any way interested by the notion of a sequel, but here we are four years later and Washington is back in front of the camera, with Antoine Fuqua returning behind it.
Washington is still retired marine Robert McCall, who is now living the quiet life in Massachusetts and only occasionally going off to crack skulls and right wrongs, in between working as a Lyft driver. He has formed a tender bond with Miles (Ashton Sanders) – a young budding artist who lives in his block and is beginning to get involved in the drug trade, against McCall’s advice. McCall’s mostly quiet life is interrupted when his friend Susan (Melissa Leo) and her partner York (Pedro Pascal) investigate a mysterious murder-suicide and they uncover a conspiracy running through the intelligence world.
It’s questionable whether anyone has ever looked as bored on a cinema screen as Washington looks in The Equalizer 2. He limps and meanders through the story with only the smallest vestiges of his million dollar charisma shining through amidst the unrelenting tedium of the generic conspiracy plot. It’s a strange story in which McCall gets very little chance to actually do any ‘equalising’ – beyond a couple of tossed aside vignettes – rather undermining the origin tale that the first movie tried to tell. In fact, the only person who looks more bored than Washington is Pedro Pascal, who actually looks ashamed to be there.
There’s not much that’s particularly offensive about The Equalizer 2, but it’s a barren wasteland lacking anything approaching ideas or originality. It flickers into life very briefly for a well-staged action sequence that takes place inside a moving taxi, but almost immediately resumes its blandness straight after, ultimately culminating in a strange finale on an abandoned, Scooby Doo-esque, stormy island that is clearly a misguided attempt to outdo the hardware store conclusion of the first movie.
This film never feels like anything other than a group of talented people conspiring together to produce the bare minimum possible in order to earn their pay packets. The Equalizer 2 somehow manages to up the boredom quotient established by its predecessor and it has to go down as one of the least interesting films of the year so far. In the first scene, Washington dons a fake beard to dispose of a series of crooks in dull fashion on a posh train. I thought of the dreadful pun ‘Murder on the Snorient Express’ and that entertained me far more than anything Fuqua pulls off in the movie.
Pop or Poop?
There haven’t been many sequels in recent years as dismal and unimpressive as The Equalizer 2, which somehow manages to surpass the first film in its capacity to lull its audience into a stupor of boredom. Denzel Washington’s charisma is hopelessly squandered and Pedro Pascal looks like he would rather be literally anywhere else. I absolutely sympathised with him.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.