SONY PICTURES RELEASING (2018)

 

Director: Antoine Fuqua

 

Starring: Denzel Washington, Pedro Pascal, Ashton Sanders, Bill Pullman, Melissa Leo, Sakina Jaffrey

Denzel is back and ready to kick just a little bit more arse.

 

Returning for the first sequel in his career, Denzel Washington reteams with long-time collaborator Antoine Fuqua to bring Robert McCall back to the big screen. The Equalizer was a moderate success box office-wise so what the studio was hoping for from The Equalizer 2 will probably remain unknown. But, here we have it – the sequel to a move that did OK and was fairly good, it’s fair to admit my hopes weren’t high.

Following the events of the first movie, retired CIA black ops agent Robert McCall (Washington) spends his days helping those less fortunate them him – with help from his friend Susan Plummer (Leo) – whilst working as a Lyft (not quite Uber) driver. Old acquaintances resurface and others meet nasty ends meaning McCall won’t be staying retired for that long after all.

 

The somewhat successful The Equalizer worked to a degree because of its stylistic approach to violence over story and the double team of Fuqua and Washington – so surely a sequel utilising a large chunk of its predecessor should be pretty good too? No, it doesn’t quite work that way. The Equalizer 2 is still violent, still pretty brutal when it needs to be and has Denzel doing what he does best – being damn good at what he does. This time around, the story is even thinner and the pacing is even more testing (despite boasting a shorter runtime) as the movie galumphs from contrivance to cliché to one generic plot point after another. Sometimes it pays to do something a bit different.

 

It’s always a pleasure to see Denzel showing whose boss and his presence manages to save this movie and, at times, prevents it from falling into hyper-naff territory. Dropping down from the heights of Moonlight, Ashton Sanders is affable as the (clichéd) troubled teen stuck between gangs and...art, whereas the rest of the cast are just there...doing...acting. It’s all very professional and MOR.

 

Story-wise, the first half is far better than the second half. We get better interactions, a wider scope of characters and situations as well as some attempts at building some narrative beats. We see McCall is, in fact, a decent man at heart and is good at delivering monologues also – however, the second half is run of the mill, big men with big guns following run of the mill action tropes, it’s just a bit tedious. At some point during the needlessly long cat-and-mouse game that ensued in the final act, I was hoping a stray bullet would come through the screen and wound me just enough to provide me some excitement. It’s a shame as the movie opened with a fizzingly good intro, reacquainting us with just how badass (and cool) McCall actually is – those poor Turks never stood a chance. I found the dialogue to be pretty good for the most part, mind, though it did take some colossal acting to make certain lines in the film sound passable.

 

Also, those Skype for Business calls were unusually crystal clear.

 

It’s tough to say that if you liked the first, then you’ll like The Equalizer 2 simply because this movie tries to be too similar and fails in doing so. At times it looks good and McCall’s character has some sage words for disaffected youths but, really, this is nothing but average. Whilst Denzel is as watchable as ever, The Equalizer 2 is dripping with the look and feel of a straight-to-DVD sweatfest.

July 23rd 2018

© 2016 Matt Hudson / What I Watched Tonight / Essex

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