Review by J.T. Johnson
DIRECTOR: Antoine Fuqua
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Oliver Wood
WRITER: Richard Wenk
MUSIC: Harry Gregson-Williams
For the first time ever, Denzel Washington returns for a sequel to one of his films. In “Equalizer 2”, it is really more of the same that you got from the first film. Washington once again plays Robert McCall, an ex-CIA operative that secretly helps those in need, except this time revenge is thrown into the mix when one of his friends is murdered.
The revenge plot is the center of the film, but like the first movie we also see Robert helping those around him. This includes a mother at the beginning of the movie and Miles Whittaker (Ashton Sanders), a young kid on the streets that Robert is encouraging to follow his dreams as an artist instead of becoming just another thug. This is true to the TV series that is the movie’s source material. I enjoyed this part of the first movie and was glad to see that they didn’t give it up in this film.
The revenge plot is admittedly basic and been done before, but writer Richard Wenk and director Antoine Fuqua play well within the formula. Once again, we are more interested in seeing how Robert will deal with his foes and like the first film, this is very effective. The movie does suffer one flaw that it shares with the original film.
The villains, who I won’t mention here for the sake of spoilers, are ill-equipped to deal with the almost superheroic Robert who always seems to be a step ahead. Should the filmmakers get the desire to make a third film, I would like to see a story where the villain or villains are actually on the same level as our protagonist. There would have been more tension if I felt that the villains had been a real threat.
Still, the true star of the movie is Washington as Robert. He plays Robert as the grieving husband and as a man who, underneath it all, is troubled by the violence he has caused in the past. Washington is the type of actor that could pull off an incredible performance in his sleep. Even if he is starring in a bad film, Washington is never the problem and thankfully, he has an entertaining movie here that doesn’t waste his talents.
I can’t say that this sequel is necessarily better than the original, but I can rarely say that about most sequels. One thing I can say is that it does match the tone and violence set in the first film. I was honestly surprised that the first “Equalizer” got a sequel because it felt like almost no one really watched it.
Yet, I have encountered a couple of fans of the first film, including my brother Jason. For them, this is a worthy addition to the series. If you haven’t seen the first film, then go watch that one, become a fan and then watch what is ultimately an enjoyable sequel.