The Equalizer 2

Coming Soon On-Demand 21 November 2018

There will be consequences.

Denzel Washington rejoins director Antoine Fuqua for the sequel to 2014's neo-noir action thriller, based on the '80s TV series of the same name.

Retired CIA black ops operative Robert McCall (Washington) - a man who serves an unflinching form of justice - returns to his old ways after discovering the murder of a friend. McCall sets out to find and punish the perpetrators.

The Equalizer 2 begins on a train to Istanbul. Denzel Washington, wearing a skullcap and beard, is reading Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between The World And Me. Soon after, he murders a couple of very bad Turkish men.

It’s an absurd opening that promises something glorious. A movie that follows Denzel around the globe as he dons disguises and beats people up sounds great. Alas, this is not that movie.

Instead we head back to the States, where he spends his time driving a Lyft (enabling a pretty staggering amount of product placement), bonding with his neighbours, and beating the snot out of some wealthy rapists (the most enjoyable scene if cathartic violence is your thing). After about an hour, a plot kicks in.

Antoine Fuqua gives the film a similar palette to the first - it’s drab, downright ugly in places, as befits the subject matter. He also seems to be on autopilot much of the time. Shots are unmotivated, but worst of all the action is sloppy and hard to follow. There’s the suggestion of horrific violence but it’s never clearly shown, and in a movie aiming for pulpy thrills, that’s a bad thing.

In the first Equalizer Denzel joined the club of ‘serious’ actors who veered into action late in their careers. Liam Neeson is fine, but Denzel radiates quiet dignity, and it was so much fun watching him wail on dudes. And it still is. And he’s still a great actor, commanding the screen even when he’s just making soup, let alone wandering into a room full of gangsters, guns drawn.

The Equalizer 2 ends up feeling hollow, though. Puzzling even. It’s a bit of a hodgepodge, a series of scenes that mostly work quite well, but don’t add up to anything satisfying.

Stuff.co.nz (James Croot)

press

This solid, but unspectacular sequel (Washington's first in a more than 50-film career) is a movie that plays by a "very particular set" of rules.

The Guardian

press

That Washington is charming enough to disguise McCall's clear streak of Travis Bickle-level sociopathy ranks as this production's greatest asset.

Vanity Fair

press

The movie is a bog; Washington's merely wading through it.

Hollywood Reporter

press

This distinctive character is gradually subsumed by familiar genre imperatives that eventually make McCall seem less special and singular than he did on first exposure in 2014.

Variety (USA)

press

Judging by the ponderous tone and pace, Fuqua thinks he's making high art (likely aspiring to something existential like Jean-Pierre Melville's "Le Samouraï"), but this is a grisly exploitation movie at best.

New York Times

press

Like all great actors, Mr. Washington commits to the performance, but every so often he also breathes fire, imbuing a scene with such shocking ferocity and bone-deep moral certitude that everything else falls blissfully away.

FilmInk (Australia)

press

Builds on the low-flash action chops of the original to bring us more of the good stuff.

Herald Sun (Australia)

press

The climactic dispensation of rough justice... is almost worth the price of admission. However, the grind of the getting-there could have you requesting a discount.

The Equalizer 2

YAWN! Another week, another mediocre action sequel. Paint by numbers storyline, boring protagonist. Why so serious Denzel? That's the problem with these Equalizer movies: they take themselves too seriously. The recent Dwayne Johnson Die Hard rip-off was generic as f**k too, but at least it was entertaining and moved reasonably quick. Would recommend Equalizer 2 to filthy casuals who enjoy watching average movies on Netflix. People with good film taste should pass on this.