VOD 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: Sky Cinema / NOW TV / 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 mercenary for hire with problem-solving-of-the-week franchise potential (after all, the film is based on the 1980s TV show of the same name). 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 innocent 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 figure, 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 entirely predictable yet also endearing. The more time we spend with McCall stalking and beating up bad guys, though, the more generic the 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, you’ve lost any real sense of involvement in what’s going on. Washington’s 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 Sky Cinema. Don’t have Sky? You can also stream it on NOW TV, as part of a £11.99 Sky Cinema Month Pass subscription.