Whilst The Avengers are currently unavailable until further notice, Robert McCall is more than capable of picking up the slack.
Okay, no Denzel Washington as McCall is not battling aliens and such, but his quick wit and combative skills have me convinced he could easily take down a couple of Thanoses.
The Equalizer 2 is the sequel to The Equalizer (2014), which itself was the adaptation and colourblind recast of the brilliant American series The Equalizer (1985 – 1989) which starred English actor Edward Woodward as British ex-secret agent and vigilante Robert McCall.
As most 80s series’ The Equalizer was relegated to fond memory until in 2014 Denzel Washington was announced as the new Robert McCall. Because it was Washington, the worries and doubts that Robert McCall would now have an American accent and be African American were kept to a respectful murmur. Released to approval, plans for a sequel were announced not long after. African American director Antoine Fuqua has worked with Washington on The Magnificent Seven (2016); The Equalizer and directed Washington to Best Actor, Oscar-win success in Training Day (2001). So it’s safe to say, Washington under Fuqua’s direction we’re guaranteed a decent film/performance.
Yet there has barely been any hype around Eq2, especially considering Washington’s last two cinema appearances have garnered him Oscar nominations (Fences, 2016 – Best Actor; Roman J. Israel Esq, 2017 – Best Actor). Eq2 has also not been met with the best reviews since its July 19th release in the States. Which I’m pretty surprised about because we frickin’ loved it. Though some of the people I watched the preview with said that Eq1 was better, we thoroughly enjoyed this follow-up.
The synopsis for Equalizer 2 – If you have a problem and there is nowhere else to turn, the mysterious and elusive Robert McCall will deliver the vigilante justice you seek. This time, however, McCall’s past cuts especially close to home when thugs kill Susan Plummer — his best friend and former colleague. Now out for revenge, McCall must take on a crew of highly trained assassins who’ll stop at nothing to destroy him.
We meet Robert McCall on a train looking very comfortable as a bearded black Muslim man dressed in traditional wear travelling peacefully to Turkey. Reading a Ta Nehisi Coates book, he appears unassuming until he clocks a man moving into another carriage and calmly follows the man who sits with his goons chilling out in a quiet carriage What follows is McCall setting a few things straight – a half Turkish-American little girl has been kidnapped and he offers the man he followed (her father) a choice. Cut to America and a scene with a woman being reunited with her kidnapped daughter who was mysteriously dropped off at her workplace. Introduction into the world of The Equalizer has been established.
Living a quiet life as Lyft driver (an alternative service to Uber which operates in America). McCall is a friend to everyone. Keeping a watchful eye on society at large, being a Lyft driver is perfect cover and prime source for him to put wrongs to right with his special version of former CIA black ops operative trained vigilantism. McCall also lives in a community-spirited apartment block where he keeps to himself in his apartment reading and battling memories of his now deceased wife.
His friends Brian and Susan Plummer (Bill Pullman, Melissa Leo) who were in Eq1 and make a repeat appearance in this film. Susan pays a surprise visit to McCall on his wife’s birthday to establish their connection. Back in her hometown, Susan who works for the police is investigating a suspicious professional murder of a rich couple, her findings cause her own untimely murder. When Brian calls McCall to let him know, The Equalizer is triggered into full investigative mode.
I’m not sure why Eq2 is getting poor reviews, it’s a good thriller. Maybe a tad slow in places, but it keeps in line with the character McCall is. He’s precise, thoughtful and always 10 steps ahead. Whilst he’s investigating his friend’s murder he still resolves a few local crimes and this is where his character shines with his dad jokes and calm execution of fair violence. He always gives his ‘victims’ the option to make right the situation.
Maybe, I will concede that the community problems McCall resolves are stronger in premise and a bit more interesting than the bigger story of him investigating who murdered his friend. Uncovering a web of corruption is less original than watching the tough love relationship developing with McCall and reluctant gang member Miles Whittaker, played by the super engaging and just wanna hug him, Ashton Sanders, who captured our hearts as the teenage Chiron in Oscar-winning Moonlight (2016). McCall also visits and helps an old Holocaust survivor who has lost a valuable picture and his sister. This human side to McCall’s vigilantism is nice to watch.
But being that it’s a film for the cinema, there’s always need for some real baddies and a strategic long drawn out over dramatic finale, which is what we are given. The fact that McCall utilises a hurricane storm to aide his baddie takedown, pushes the film into realms of ridiculousness which don’t quite match the calm steady pace of the Lyft driving local crime fighter. I mean the film has already set him up as someone who can nip things in the bud quite quietly. This is why The Equalizer was successful as a series. Resolving local crimes per episode works well. Combining the two for the big screen takes extra thought.
That said, The Equalizer 2 is a definite must watch. It’s not often a Denzel Washington film is going to be bad, and Washington in full cool Uncle/Dad gangsta bad man mode is brilliant. His working relationship with Fuqua long may it continue. I’d be quite happy for Equalizer 3, there aren’t enough super-uncles in the world.
The Equalizer 2
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Cast: Denzel Washington, Anton Sanders, Bull Pullman, Melissa Leo
UK Release date: August 17th 2018