Netflix UK film review: The Equalizer 2
Ivan Radford | On 22, Dec 2018Reading time: 2 mins
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Cast: Denzel Washington, Pedro Pascal, Ashton Sanders, Bill Pullman, Melissa Leo
Watch The Equalizer 2 online in the UK: Netflix UK / iTunes / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Rakuten TV / Google Play / Sky Store
Denzel Washington is one of the best actors around. The notion of him tackling his first sequel and returning to a character he’s played before, then, is one to relish – particularly when it’s Robert McCall, the star of The Equalizer, a moral merc-for-hire with franchise potential. All that promise, though, is blown away in a storm of confused messages and good intentions.
McCall, for newcomers, is a former black-ops soldier, the kind of man who can kill you with any household object – probably with his eyes closed. Disillusioned with a world in which wrongs are done to the wrong people, he takes it upon himself to right the balance – preferably by killing people with a household object, probably with his eyes closed. We catch up with him on a train to Turkey, in which he bumps off some unsavoury types – an introductory set piece designed to remind us just how violent he can be.
That violence, though, is part of The Equalizer 2’s problem: for a man who is so devoutly righteous in his motivations, there’s no shaking the impression that he actually enjoys enacting the brutal acts of revenge that make up his side job. In his day job, where he works as a forklift driver, he’s a charismatic, likeable fellow, with Washington bringing real warmth to the screen. His friendship with Miles (Ashton Sanders), a local kid with an artistic gift and a potential to end up on the wrong side of the tracks, is endearing, but also predictable. And the more time we spend with McCall stalking and beating up bad guys, the more generic his character becomes.
Director Antoine Fuqua’s a dab hand at set pieces, and there’s a satisfaction to the kind of slow-mo beat-em-up fest that The Equalizer specialises in. But as a sequel, we need higher stakes or fresh reasons to keep our hero motivated, and The Equalizer 2 essentially boils down to vengeance for the murder of a friend – this time, sure, it’s personal, but it’s also a less cheer-worthy cause. By the time we reach the visually impressive climax, which sees a showdown take place in a hurricane, we’ve lost any real involvement in what’s going on. Washington’s clearly game for sinking his teeth into a familiar face; it’s just a shame that the rest of the film isn’t his equal.
The Equalizer 2 is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription.