When you combine Denzel Washington and Antoine Fuqua, things tend to go well. “Training Day” got Washington his way overdue Academy Award, “The Magnificent Seven” was a really good retelling of a classic story, and their take on the ‘80s television series “The Equalizer” was entertaining, albeit a bit long. Knowing that the intent for the latter would be a trilogy, it has been four years since the first film, but here we are at last with “The Equalizer 2”.
With the events of the first film turning Robert McCall (Washington) into a hero for hire, he travels the world righting wrongs with help from a government insider and the only person who is considered his friend in Susan Plummer (Melissa Leo). While investigating the death of an agent in Brussels that gets Plummer killed, McCall finds himself embroiled not only in that investigation but so much more.
This installment is just a tad shorter than its predecessor, but the pacing here is a lot better. The right-at-two-hour run time moves along nicely, with twists and turns that did not necessarily keep me guessing but kept me intrigued as the story unfolded. This “episode” also dives a bit deeper into McCall’s story without letting that subplot take over what is going on in the main story, complimenting and enhancing it. I cannot say that I didn’t see the villain reveal coming, but it made sense and created a very cool atmosphere as the story reaches its fever pitch. Washington also shows a bit more of McCall’s cold side when it comes to the bad guys here, showing a growth in the character as he becomes to embrace the role that he is destined to be in of a human guardian angel. I also used the word “episode” here because this doesn’t really feel like a sequel as much, which I think was a conscious choice. With only Washington, Leo, and Bill Pullman as returning actors, this is more of a “new story in the same universe” than it is a continuation of the film before it, and for me, that is a good thing. There is action galore here, and having watched the first one a mere days before, I think there is more here on just about every level than there was before from action to story to depth to even visual effects done well. (The “McCall gets the attention of the bad guy on the pier” sequence in the first one was just simply too over the top for me.) There are a few really high-intensity scenes that keep the adrenaline flowing while also having some nice light moments and even a couple that pulled on my heart strings a bit, providing a solid balance to the script as well.
I do love that Denzel Washington knows how to pick projects that keep a good balance to who he is as an actor while letting him have some fun every once in a while. I am not saying that he is resting on his laurels in any way, shape, or form with “The Equalizer 2,” this is the kind of film that lets him simply enjoy the ride as much as the audience does while still keeping his immense talent on display. I truly enjoyed this film, so go check it out at your earliest possible chance!