The Equalizer 2

Year: 2018
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 clich√© 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.

 

Tom’s Rating:¬†

4.5

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Denzel Washington Starts Tying Up Loose Ends In The First ‘Equalizer 2’ Trailer

“Denzel Washington returns to one of his signature roles in the first sequel of his career. Robert McCall serves an unflinching justice for the exploited and oppressed ‚Äď but how far will he go when that is someone he loves?”

Directed by: Antoine Fuqua

Cast: Denzel Washington, Pedro Pascal, Ashton Sanders, Bill Pullman,  Melissa Leo

Release Date: July 20th, 2018

Top 10 Boxing Movies

Written by Patrick Alexander

Sports play a major part in the way the world works; from Superbowl Sunday to the World Cup final, pretty much everyone follows one sport or another. The problem is, the popularity of sports in general dictates that Hollywood tries and tries to churn out successful sporting movies, but sporting movies are notoriously hard to get right. That said, boxing seems to be one of the few sports that does work on film, and I’m here to prove it with 10 great boxing movies. Before we crack on with this list, I have to give some honorable mentions to a few films that didn’t quite make it into the top 10.¬†


Rocky III (1982): When you think of boxing movies, you naturally think of the ‘Rocky’ franchise, but we can’t have seven ‘Rocky’ films in here can we? In this third film, the villain Clubber Lang (played by Mr. T) makes a strong¬†case for himself and this is a great film, but not quite as good as some of the others in the series.

Cinderella Man (2005): One of Russell Crowe‚Äôs finest works, with a¬†fantastic Paul Giamatti supporting role, but this film’s old-old-old school mentality¬†lulls a hair too much to sneak into the top ten.

The Boxer (1997): Keeping it simple with the title, ‘The Boxer’ stars Daniel Day Lewis as a killer. But ‘The Boxer’ is not even his best¬†film about being an Irish Revolutionary. I mean, come on Daniel; what¬†kind of warped sequel to ‘In the Name of the Father’ is this?¬†

Okay, on with the real winners…


fatcity

10. Fat City (1972); Directed by John Huston; Starring Stacy Keach, Jeff Bridges

Synopsis: Two men, working as professional boxers, come to blows when their careers each begin to take opposite momentum.

Verdict: A real old school boxing flick and the godfather of all boxing¬†movies, pre-dating both ‘Rocky’ and ‘Raging Bull’. Stacy Keach, as Tully,¬†carries the film‚Äôs focus in his showdown with a young Jeff Bridges. ‘Fat¬†City’ is everything you want it to be; non-formulaic, aware of its angle,¬†full of classic 70s dialogue, and a rip-roaring bout that will keep you on the¬†edge of your seat. Had the story aged better over time, ‘Fat City’ would,¬†indubitably, deserve to be ranked higher.


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9. The Fighter (2010); Directed by David O. Russell; Starring: Christian Bale, Mark Wahlberg

Synopsis: A look at the early years of boxer “Irish” Micky Ward, and his¬†brother who helped train him before going pro in the mid 1980s.

Verdict: Micky Ward sure does come off as a prick, but with Bale and¬†Wahlberg in tow, the director Russell actually makes you want to root¬†for Ward by the end. Dysfunctional in nature, Dicky Eklund‚Äôs portrayal¬†absolutely ties together what would have been a rather bland stint¬†without him. Docked points for sub-par boxing scenes by Marky Mark, ‘The Fighter’ has a candor and a degree of authenticity¬†which allows it to¬†keep it‚Äôs head above water¬†among the all-time boxing greats.


ali

8. Ali (2001); Directed by Michael Mann; Starring Will Smith, Jamie Foxx

Synopsis: A biography of sports legend, Muhammad Ali, from his early days to his time in the ring.

Verdict: Will Smith brings to life the childhood hero of many,¬†Muhammad Ali. We‚Äôve all got posters on our walls of the man who¬†could truly float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. From his “Thrilla in¬†Manila” to his personal journeys stateside, Ali fought more powers than¬†just Sonny Liston and Joe Frazier. Smith‚Äôs wily persona of the world-class champion lands a devastating blow on this list amongst the great¬†boxing flicks of old.


southpaw

7. Southpaw (2015); Directed by Antoine Fuqua; Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Forest Whitaker

Synopsis: Boxer Billy Hope turns to trainer Tick Wills to help him get his life back on track after losing his wife in a tragic accident and his daughter to child protection services.

Verdict: A vociferously flashy, most glamorous, Eminem-infused battle¬†blast, ‘Southpaw’ attacks both fast and strong. Gyllenhaal is so¬†unbelievably ripped and his surreal training sequences totally make¬†this film. Fighting Miguel ‚ÄėMagic‚Äô Escobar, the fiery Colombian¬†antagonist only makes you root for Billy Hope and his lost hope even¬†more. Some may call ‘Southpaw’ formulaic and chalk this one up to¬†bias based on its recent release, but Antoine Fuqua gets everything right from tight boxing¬†sequences, to max-level grandeur, to a hard-hitting lefty landing a¬†wonderful wallop into this top ten.


rocky 4

6. Rocky IV (1985); Directed by Sylvester Stallone; Starring Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren

Synopsis: After iron man Ivan Drago, a highly intimidating 6-foot-5, 261-pound Soviet athlete, kills Apollo Creed in an exhibition match, Rocky comes to the heart of Russia for 15 pile-driving boxing rounds of revenge.

Verdict: In the fight that single-handedly ended the Cold War, Rocky¬†goes toe-to-toe with the juiced-up Russian cyborg machine, Ivan¬†Drago, who inexplicably felled the great Apollo Creed. Rocky lights our¬†hearts on fire by selecting the hard way out¬†in defeating his¬†Russian nemesis. Through snow-clogged sprints and intense cabin¬†training, Rocky once again shows us that there are no demons out there incapable of being defeated. A 15-round packed-punch of¬†emotion, passion, and defeating the Soviets lands ‘Rocky IV’ a place in the¬†throes of greatness.


undisputed

5. Undisputed (2002); Directed by Walter Hill; Starring Wesley Snipes, Ving Rhames

Synopsis: When heavyweight champion George ‘Iceman’ Chambers¬†lands himself in prison, the resident gangster arranges a boxing match with¬†the reigning prison champ.

Verdict: Outside of having, pound-for-pound, the greatest boxing¬†sequence of all time in film history (and you can take that to the¬†bank), ‘Undisputed’ brings the unique concept of prison boxing to the¬†table, an advantage unbeknownst to any other of its contemporaries.¬†Iceman Chambers vs. Monroe Hutchens is right up there with Balboa¬†vs. Creed, in terms of strength of fighting skills plus high class¬†drama. The total underdog of the list, ‘Undisputed’ will wow you with its¬†technical, authentic feeling final round. A must-see for boxing fans¬†everywhere.


creed

4. Creed (2015); Directed by Ryan Coogler; Starring Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone

Synopsis: Everyone’s favourite former¬†World Heavyweight Champion, Rocky Balboa,¬†serves as trainer and mentor to Adonis Johnson, the son of his late¬†friend and former rival Apollo Creed.

Verdict: After the abomination that was ‘Rocky Balboa’, ‘Creed’ gets the¬†franchise right back in line with technically savvy, intense boxing, led by¬†magnificently deft camera work throwing us into all angles of the ring.¬†Throw in real life boxer, Tony Bellow, playing the indomitable ‚ÄėPretty‚Äô¬†Ricky Conlon across the ring from Adonis Johnson (Creed), and the¬†authenticity levels are unparalleled. With great training montages,¬†including a dirt bike sidled run up the steps to victory, ‘Creed’ supplants¬†not only Southpaw as the best boxing flick of 2015, but perhaps may¬†be the #1 boxing picture of the past decade.


the-hurricane_000

3. The Hurricane (1999); Directed by Norman Jewison; Starring Denzel Washington, Liev Schreiber

Synopsis: The story of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, a boxer wrongly¬†imprisoned for murder, and the people who aided in his fight to prove¬†his innocence.

Verdict: One of the better ‚Äúoutside the ring‚ÄĚ stories of the bunch, elevated by a Mt.¬†Rushmore performance by Washington. Washington, as Rubin ‚ÄúHurricane‚ÄĚ Carter fights not only his¬†weary opponents in the ring, but the racism and hate that imprisoned¬†an innocent man, until love overflows to bust him out. A real knockout¬†punch right into the sixteenth round, ‘The Hurricane’ will box a hole right into¬†the throws of your heart.


rocky

2. Rocky (1976); Directed by John G. Avildsen; Starring Sylvester Stallone, Carl Stone

Synopsis: Rocky Balboa, a small-time boxer, gets a supremely rare chance to fight the heavy-weight champion, Apollo Creed, in a bout in which he strives to go the distance for his self-respect.

Verdict: The ultimate underdog story. The picture that made you¬†believe you could conquer any obstacle in life by running up a few¬†steps in front of a local museum. Bill Conti‚Äôs epic soundtrack, Rocky¬†Balboa‚Äôs finest clash with Apollo Creed, and the city of Philadelphia‚Äôs¬†soul combine to make ‘Rocky’ an all-timer. With Burgess Meredith, a world class¬†stick man, and the darling Talia Shire along for the ride, Rocky¬†conquers every mountain, both real and metaphorical on its climb to¬†the top (well, nearly the top).


Raging.Bull.04

1. Raging Bull (1980); Directed by Martin Scorsese; Starring Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci

Synopsis: An emotionally self-destructive boxer’s journey through life,¬†as the violence and temper that leads him to the top in the ring,¬†destroys his life outside it.

Verdict: A legendary, poetic performance by the menace of a boxer,¬†Robert De Niro playing Jack La Motta. This it the film that makes any young¬†kid want to be a boxer and perhaps evokes a raging bull inside all of¬†us. ‘Raging Bull’ is filled with demons, relief, and a pleasantly insane¬†narrative. Viciously brutal boxing sequences mixing slow beating and¬†frenetic flurries of blows, plus a heart of gold, mean Scorsese‚Äôs finest¬†work tops this list.

The Equalizer 2 Confirmed

Sony have confirmed¬†that the ‘The Equalizer 2’ will be released on 29 September 2017, with Denzel Washington almost certain to¬†return as protagonist Robert McCall. Washington is currently working with director Antoine Fuqua again on ‘The Magnificent Seven’, but there has been no news on whether Fuqua will be directing a second neo-noir thriller.

‘The Equalizer’ grossed $192.3 million worldwide after its September 2014 release, although it received fairly mixed reviews from the critics. The public, on the other hand, clearly voted with their feet for this √ľber violent vigilante film.
Written by Wan Tyszkiewicz

The Magnificent Seven Cast Takes Shape

This is the second remake of Akira Kurasawa‚Äôs 1954 film ‘Seven Samurai’ but Hollywood just can‚Äôt leave it alone. The John Sturges version of 1960 was packed with big stars, and that‚Äôs exactly what MGM are lining up for the January 2017 release of this gritty Western.

Director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, The Equalizer) will be meeting some familiar faces on set including Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Peter Sarsgaard, Vincent D‚ÄôOnofrio, Luke Grimes and Matt Bomer. True Detective writer and producer Nic Pizzolata has been a part of the mix so perhaps this remake of ‘The Magnificent Seven’ will cross creepy with the unforgiving.

Written by Wan Tyszkiewicz