Well this should be a lot of fun.
It’s been a little while since I’ve seen the first movie, but I know I liked it. It is what it is. An action movie about a good-natured dude going on a killing spree against assholes who really deserve it. I remember some nice violence, some solid humor, among other things. Why I didn’t do a review on the first movie, you got me. I was more focused on the Mission: Impossible movies, I guess.
The story looks like it’s about the same as the previous. Some assholes do some asshole things, and Denzel comes in to kick their asshole asses.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Denzel Washington (THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN ), Pedro Pascal (KINGSMAN 2 , and upcoming films IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK  and WONDER WOMAN 1984 ), Bill Pullman (BATTLE OF THE SEXES , INDEPENDENCE DAY 2 , AMERICAN ULTRA , and upcoming films BACKSEAT  and THE COLDEST GAME ), Melissa Leo (SNOWDEN , THE BIG SHORT , and the upcoming RUN WITH THE HUNTED ), and Caroline Day (I FEEL PRETTY , and the upcoming THE GOLDFINCH ).
Now for the crew. Writing and directing, we have Antoine Fuqua, known for THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN and SOUTHPAW (2015). Composing the score is Harry Gregson-Williams, known for EARLY MAN (2018), THE ZOOKEEPER’S WIFE (2017), LIVE BY NIGHT (2016), THE MARTIAN (2015), and the upcoming THE MEG (2018). The cinematographer is Oliver Wood, known for JACK REACHER 2 (2016), and the upcoming HOLMES AND WATSON (2018). Finally, the editor is Conrad Buff IV, known for AMERICAN ASSASSIN (2017) and THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER’S WAR (2016).
Overall, this looks like it’s going to be a lot of painful fun. What else is there to say, other than, bring it on.
This is my honest opinion of: THE EQUALIZER 2
Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) does what he can to live a simple life, now as a Lyft driver and being a homely neighbor to his fellow residents at his apartment. He still manages to find himself in scuffles with a few low-lives here and there, but is mostly living as peaceful a life as he could ask for. He’s even visited by an old friend from his military days, Susan Plummer (Melissa Leo). However, one of her assets was murdered and finds herself murdered for digging too deep into the case. This causes Robert to break from his supposed death to seek justice for his friend, tracking down whoever did it, all the while keeping the local kid Miles (Ashton Sanders) out of trouble and on the path of the straight and narrow.
This is… hmm. Okay, so to say that I don’t like this movie would be a lie. But on the flipside to that coin, I feel like saying that I like it feels… not entirely accurate. I don’t know, something’s bugging me about this movie and I can’t quite put my finger on how to feel about it. Maybe my feelings will become a little clearer by the time I start writing. Onward!
The closest thing to a legitimate complaint that I have with the movie is that it drags in certain scenes that feel like filler, rather than anything that furthers the story. Specifically, anything dealing with Miles. But there’s an issue with that. These scenes are there for the climax when he’s been kidnapped by the bad guys. Again, specifically, so when he’s in danger, we care about him more and want to see him make it through. In that function, these scenes do their job. Miles is a good and kind-hearted young man who seems to have a good head on his shoulders. He sure makes his own set of questionable decisions on who he hangs out with, but otherwise someone who means well. He’s just trying to look after his mom after his family suffered a tragedy. With all of that said, this is the issue I take with Miles. His character could have been removed entirely from the movie and the story wouldn’t have missed a beat. Think about it, what is Robert’s problem? What’s his ultimate goal and motivation? To find and kill the men who murdered Susan. Miles plays absolutely no role in this, so his inclusion in this story feels tacked on. Keep in mind, in the first movie, yes, Robert was protective of another younger person, but she was the motivational drive behind his actions leading him to the despicable douche-munch that was responsible for causing the young girl harm in the first place. Miles lacks that level of connection to Robert’s killing spree, and because so much time is dedicated to his character, it harms the film.
I suppose because of my feelings toward Miles’ character being pretty contrived to the story, the movie can be fairly boring as a whole. Because of the aforementioned time dedicated to his character, that means we’re not seeing enough ass-kicking. In fact, it’s almost like the movie knows this. Because Robert’s progress in finding the men who killed Susan is a matter of time and patience, all of that is tested upon the audience who have to endure so much of Robert’s downtime being a pleasant dude to his neighbors. Look, I think anyone would be straight-up happy to be charmed by Denzel, ain’t no one disputing that. With that said, this isn’t a friendlier version of FENCES (2016), this is a sequel to one of the more exciting and gritty action movies to come out of Denzel’s already-impressive filmography. We want to see Robert hurt the baddest of the bad guys in really painful ways. We want to squirm at their pain and laugh at how much they deserve it. Yes, we get these scenes, but they’re in scenes that ultimately have nothing to do with the main plot of the movie. The opening scene with Robert taking back the kidnapped daughter and bringing her back to her mother, that was fine, but it’s literally just the opening scene of the movie. It’s function is to establish what kind of man Robert is, an upstanding fellow, but a mercilessly brutal fighter. It’s set-up. But then when the movie decides to detour and get justice for a woman who was sexually assaulted, again, none of these hedge-fund rich fucks have anything to do with Susan’s murder. Once again, tacked on scenes that serve no real function to the story.
But before anyone starts calling me a hater, I still don’t quite hate this movie, or dislike it in any way. Similar to JACK REACHER 2, I liked seeing the more human side to the killing machine that was previously established. I liked seeing Robert take an interest in Fatima’s (Shakina Jaffrey) gardening and doing his part in painting over graffiti. I enjoyed him interacting with Sam (Orson Bean), the old man he frequently drives around. And for all its flaws of including Miles to intricately into the story, I do like their relationship. One of my favorite scenes with them is when Miles is commenting on Robert’s cooking and is about to life the lid of a cooking pot, Robert slaps Miles’ hand and says, “I’m not your mama, that ain’t your pot, and this ain’t your house.” It’s a fun, father-son dynamic. And give the movie credit, when the action scenes take place, they’re a lot of fun, pretty violent, even suspenseful in some cases, but all pretty bad ass. The humor comes through, the drama really works, and the climax taking place during a pretty intense storm is more than awesome.
Overall, yes, this movie has flaws, and they do legitimately bother me and hinder my experience. It’s almost closer to a drama than an action movie, if we’re all being a little honest with ourselves. So little of the plot is driven forward, so I can see more than a few people getting bored with it. But for what it is, the movie does it’s job well by giving us some solid characters, an enjoyable protagonist, and when the action takes off, as few of them as there are, they entertain. I won’t call it a good movie, but it’s a far cry from being awful. As a recommendation, I say viewer beware. I can’t imagine the masses hating the flick, but I wouldn’t expect anything too action-heavy. But if you like Denzel and his brand of being a kick-ass dude who’s really chill to hang out with, then I’d say it won’t be the worst thing you’d see. Save it for a matinee screening, or a discount day. Best bet would be to save it for a rental. There are plenty of equals to this flick, but it gets the job done.
My honest rating for THE EQUALIZER 2: a strong 3/5
This week’s reviews:
- UNCHARTED (fan film)
- UNFRIENDED: DARK WEB
- MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN
- PRINCESS MONONOKE (1997)
Next week’s reviews: