By Daniel O’Connell
Back in 2014, Antoine Fuqua, the director of films such as Training Day, Tears of the Sun, and Shooter, teamed with Denzel Washington to make The Equalizer. Based loosely on the hit 1980s television series, the film followed Robert McCall, a former Black Ops operative who uses his skills to help the innocent while waging war against the Russian Mafia. The film was a box office success, and was enjoyed by both critics and audiences alike, praising it for its acting, action, and unique visual style. Now, both Washington and Fuqua team up again to bring audiences The Equalizer 2, making it the first time Washington has returned for a sequel.
Taking place some time after the first film, it follows McCall (Washington) who now works as a Lyft driver. He continues to help out people in trouble, with the aid of his old friend, Susan Plummer (Melissa Leo). However, when Plummer goes to investigate an apparent murder-suicide in Brussels, along with intelligence agent David York (Pedro Pascal), she ends up being murdered. The sudden murder motivates McCall to investigate and uncover it, all while being followed by the same people who were responsible for Susan’s murder.
Like the previous film, one of its major strengths is its acting. Denzel Washington, once again, brings usual talent and charisma to the role of Robert McCall. His performance makes McCall a likable and engaging lead as we follow him helping out people and investigating Susan’s murder. We also get more insight into McCall’s past, including how he use to have a wife around the time he left the life of an operative. Another standout performance goes to Pedro Pascal as David York. Looking almost unrecognizable in the role, Pascal also makes York a friendly and likable character, who also has a past with McCall in working in the field together. As the plot unfolds, the characteristics of these two leads make the twists and turns all the more shocking and dramatic.
Another strength of the film is McCall’s interactions with the people he helps, which make up two of the film’s subplots. The first revolves around McCall helping an elderly Holocaust survivor named Samuel recover a painting of his sister that was separated from him. The other subplot revolves around McCall helping a troubled youth named Miles Whittaker, who has an artistic talent, go along the right path and make the right choices in life. The subplot with Miles, however, comes off as the more engaging one, especially because of the relationship between McCall and Miles.
The mainstay and most exciting part of the film, however, would have to be its intense action sequences. Like in the first film, McCall rarely uses guns throughout the movie, preferring to use his hands, combat skills, and whatever he has at his disposal. This makes for interesting and tense fight scenes, where McCall makes notice of his surrounding before going into action. Like the first film, the climax involves a game of cat and mouse between McCall and a group of heavily armed pursuers. This film, however, ups the ante by having the confrontation take place in a seaside town about to be hit by a hurricane.
However, the film suffers from some problems, namely in plot and pacing. The main plot surrounding McCall investigating Susan’s murder is nothing to write home about. It does not come off as interesting or engaging as the subplot surrounding Miles, as well as not having nearly enough screen time devoted to it. The problems with the plot ties into its other problem, its pacing. It feels slow to watch, namely with the amount of time devoted to its main plot as well as its subplots. However, the pacing does pick up again in the last quarter of the movie, making up for the slow paced film.
Featured image from JustKillingTime
The Equalizer 2
All in all, 'The Equalizer 2' is an excellent sequel, which improves on the strengths of the original. Although suffering from problems with its plot and pacing, the film exceeds with Denzel Washington’s performance and the acting of its supporting cast, character interactions in its subplots, and intense and interesting action scenes. A fun, worthy sequel that is a blast to watch.
Daniel is a Journalism major and a History minor. Daniel’s hobbies include playing video games, watching movies, writing short stories and fan fiction, and listening to music. He hopes to use his work at Byte as a stepping stone for his journalism career.