Directed by: Antoine Fuqua
Cast: Denzel Washington, Pedro Pascal, Melissa Leo, Ashton Sanders, Bill Pullman
Written by Tom Sheffield
Full disclosure before I start this review, I only watched The Equalizer for the first time a few hours before heading to the cinema for an early screening of this sequel. I really have no excuse as to why it took me so long, I’d only ever heard good things about it and now I can see why! It’s safe to say that I was well and truly ready for the sequel once it had finished and I had high hopes for it seeing as Denzel agreed to return for his first ever sequel.
Following his killing spree in the first film, Robert McCall (Washington) is now a Lyft driver in Massachusetts and lives in a small complex. McCall spends his days listening and talking to passengers, and by night he helps out the less fortunate as a righteous vigilante. After his closest friend is murdered, McCall makes it his personal mission to find those who killed her and deliver his own justice. The incoming hurricane isn’t the only storm brewing…
Much like the first film, the plot is very slow paced. Clocking in at just over two hours long, the first half of the film is spent focusing on McCall’s day job and the people he meets. We are also introduced to McCall’s neighbour, Miles (Sanders), who is a young and talented artist who has taken a wrong turn in life following the death of his brother. McCall takes Miles under his wing to help steer him on to the right path, and it’s this unexpected friendship that is a strong focus in the first half of the film. Once McCall learns of the death of his best friend the pedal hits the metal and McCall’s ferocious revenge begins.
Denzel yet again manages to completely embody the character of McCall. We didn’t learn all that much about his character in the first film, but this sequel gives us a little more insight into his mysterious past and also shows us a more fatherly-figure side to him. We know he’s a very protective person, but his relationship with Miles allows us to see a deeper side to him. Ashton Sanders delivers a solid offering as troubled teenager Miles. We learn about his background during his conversations with McCall, and we witness the struggles and dangers Miles puts himself in as he continues to make the wrong decisions in life. Pedro Pascal is a fantastic addition to this sequel, but the less said about his character in this review the better the film will be for you!
Oliver Wood, who’s previous cinematography work includes the Bourne series, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, and Safe House, has delivered some career-best work here. Fuqua and Wood have paid close attention to each shot, but there’s one shot in particular that revolves around McCall’s car that I had to restrain myself from punching the air because it was so quick and so smooth that when it’s available on home release I will be going straight to that scene to watch again and again. If you’ve seen it, or will be seeing it, you’ll know instantly which scene I am referring to.
Antoine Fuqua has managed to re-capture a lot of what I loved about the first film without making it feel like a copy and paste job. With the slow-motion ‘situation assessing’ shots and the brutal justice McCall serves, all it felt like the film was missing was Batman’s cape and cowl. Denzel putting on the batsuit really wouldn’t have felt out of place in this film – and I mean this is a sincere compliment. Whilst it takes a while for the action to kick off, the wait feels worth it as once it starts it rarely stops to let you breathe.
With some incredible action set pieces that rival the bloody killing spree in the first film, The Equalizer 2 proves itself a worthy sequel (even if a plot point or two are incredibly cliché and predictable). Denzel is on form once again, delivering both really touching moments and brutal fight scenes that will make you think twice about ever messing with him. Unlike most films these days, The Equalizer 2 doesn’t end with some sequel baiting tease and if this is the last time we see McCall it will be a fitting farewell, but something tells me that more of McCall’s past could come back to haunt him and we could be blessed with an Equalizer trilogy.