The Equalizer 2 Movie Review
The Equalizer 2 doesn’t Equate to Much
Early on in "The Equalizer 2", the mercenary shows no mercy, Robert McCall, played once again by Denzel Washington, rants "there are two types of pain in this world, pain that hurts and pain that alters". By the end of this gritty affair, we have become quite familiar with the former as well as the latter. And not entirely for the same reasons intended by the director of the film. (How is it that a film that preaches peace can be so perversely violent is quite the enigma).
Another enigma, is why Denzel Washington chose his character in "The Equalizer" to franchise in his first ever sequel? Maybe because McCaw could turn the felicity of Mark Twain's irreverent penmanship into something badass, or because he may service as a "timely" heroine in an era when the battle between good and evil hardly seems equal. Whatever the case, it is always a treat to watch the virtuoso Washington perform with ferocity and restraint alike. Those who saw his Oscar-winning performance in "Training Day" know that King Kong aint got sh*t on Denzel, and neither do the bad guys here.
The villains here don't initially present themselves as extremists on a global scale. Though the opening spectacle does take place on a hurried train in Turkey. Dressed as a reverent Muslim with a silky navajo white cloth to match his mock-beard, McCall shows great restraint as he reads Coate's novel on black violence in America "Between The World and Me" as he waits to free a virginal lamb from the slaughter. I guess in this case we are supposed to judge a book by its cover. Since before you know it, McCaw is clicking his stopwatch, signaling times up for the foreign petulant scum who have kidnapped an adorably innocent little girl. Usually, by the time the stop-watch has reached twenty seconds, the criminals have been brutally disassembled in stunning slow-motion with all the righteous strength of the right hand of God.
Much of McCaw's appeal, I believe, comes from his angelic overtones. He's a mysterious figure, a role model with enough inspiring allegorical quotes to fill the scriptures, with enough savory savior like violence to fill the seats at his pictures(the last film made 190 million dollars). So it comes as no surprise that the first actor so juxtaposes a collection of broken wrists, limbs, fingers, and 5-star ratings on Lyft(Home Depot, his last job, apparently wasn't presenting enough opportunities for violence), as he lends a helping hand to his friendly neighbors of Boston. Though ironically it is Antoine Fuqua's sequel that lacks lift. Odds are--despite its bona-fide goodwill-- you won't exit the picture with your spirits lifted either. I certainly didn't.
What has escalated, as with all action thrillers, are the stakes. Neighborhood errands are fun and all, but Fuqua and screenwriter Richard Wenk have devised a wholly unoriginal global conspiracy revolving assassination that's at once personal for our hero and impersonal for the audience. With twists and villains that are about as predictable as Denzel pursing his lips and saying something along the lines of "we all got to pay for our sins" before completing his merited revenge. The revenge here is sweet as well as fattening. Having watched a scrupulous two hours of being spoon-fed McCall's backstory and good deeds, by the time he finally duels the textbook manic Fuqua baddies, we cheer--my audience audibly applauded-- as well as yawn. As Denzel, usually in low angle shots, shows all the restraint of a Hurricane making headway. As he effortlessly goes through former CIA agents at the rate John Mcclane does cigarettes.
"Equalizer 2" doesn't end with a yipikayay or even a hooray,-- the grey and black hues here exert a tormented soul-- but there is something to be said about the final standoff centered in a windstorm. One of the film unapologetically has been building toward throughout. In an evacuated beach town outside Massachusetts; the relentless crashing waves and abandoned setting harkens "Key Largo" and the persistent howling winds and scattered leaves remind one of "The Turin Horse". This is where the movie is at its best. McCall, almost supernaturally, swooping down on his prey, his eyes as fiery as the storms. But don't be fooled, there is another storm coming. I am no weatherman, but the forecast calls for a raining of cliches and pain and will arrive whenever Denzel and Fuqua conclude the third installment.