Denzel Washington has seemingly done it all over the course of his illustrious career. But there is one thing he has not done, a sequel. That is until now because ‘The Equalizer 2’ directed by Antoine Fuqua is coming to theaters this Friday. I very much enjoyed the first ‘Equalizer’ back in 2014 and thought Washington captured the role of reluctant-hero perfectly. I was hopeful for a sequel, but never thought one would come to fruition. Then it was announced, and I was optimistic for a second entry that would continue to develop and explore the character further. This was something I felt confident in given Washington decided to step back into a role for a second time, when he had never done so prior.
Deeper insight is exactly what this sequel provided. We get to know the character of Robert McCall much more in this story. It does come at the cost of the more, fast-paced action vibe the trailers give the impression of this film being however. To me it was worth it to dive into the character and the life he has led since the first movie. It was interesting to learn more about his values, and his ethics, which is an area Washington absolutely thrives in when the character he is depicting calls for it.
This added substance and depth built onto the characters already strong-rooted feel as an aged-man with wisdom to provide. With a history he isn’t proud of but doesn’t necessarily hide from. While at the same time, being a skilled killer with the means to accomplish things far beyond what his unassuming appearance would tell you. This foundation had me completely invested in the character and his path through the story.
When it becomes a personal mission of revenge the stakes are higher. The emotional decision making takes over, and watching Washington balance these personas gave the film an intrigue that the first was missing. With the development of his character-arc being responsible for building much of the intensity to the action- sequences because you actually care. This story picks up where we left off and from there goes into different directions that were appealing to watch. This wasn’t a sequel that felt reliant on duplicating its success. As much as it felt like a sequel that wanted to re-introduce the world of the story to explore other avenues within it which was effective in maintaining curiosity and interest throughout.
Washington was excellent in the lead. He felt more like Denzel Washington than he did anyone else, but it doesn’t matter. He delivers charm, capability, emotion, and endless waves of intensity that create a character you simply want to see onscreen doing what he does, much like John Wick. The supporting cast were all able to elevate their common character-types with their performances to breathe life into them. Melissa Leo was excellent as always. She is consistently, and subtly, graceful in her performances and this one was no different. It was enjoyable to see Leo and Washington in their scenes together to watch a couple of skilled artists work off one another. And Pascal and Pullman provide some charismatic performances that make up for some otherwise formulaic roles as well to round on the focal characters nicely.
There are more layers to this story in comparison to the first but there is still more than enough blood-pumping action. Like it was in the first film, the choreography of the fight-sequences is fantastic. It felt tailored to a man of Washington’s age. Using a lot of leverage, misdirection, and quick thinking. As opposed to simple blunt force which would come off much more unrealistic. Experience is his weapon, and his skill-set is his delivery system. I enjoyed this styling technique to the action, and how it was shot as it added a lot of tension to an already moody plot-line.
There are some riveting shootouts that had me up in my seat. as well as a few tense showdowns that build all the intensity you would want in a genre film like this. With a focus on knife-play that was awesome to watch and something that brought a smile to my face as the camera work pulls you into the violence to capture the true capability of Washington’s character as he carves up waves bad guys.
The action is frequent in a story that doesn’t rely on only that to entertain. It feels like a government agency revenge film at times, with appealing international locations. But it’s also contained drama in certain stretches, and the direction from Antione Fuqua was able to capture the right tone for both. It’s not flashy and it’s he creates the perfect atmosphere for this story, one that effectively elevates the emotion of each given moment throughout.
Some may find the pace a little slow but if you like an action film that takes the time to build story layers and give more insight into character motives, then you will be pleased. The action is not the emphasis, but it is extremely well-crafted to inject fierce doses of violence into the narrative without ever feeling like it was trying too hard. Other than telegraphing a few of its movies this film gave me all I wanted. An engaging story, awesome grounded action, and two sides of Denzel Washington. His action persona loaded with charming bravado, and his dramatic side filled with heart and sensitivity. Which was a near perfect recipe for me. If you liked the first, and prefer your gratuitous violence delivered with a little heart, then this one is absolutely worth a shot.
Check out my video review on YouTube!