It’s surprising that Equalizer 2 is the first sequel in which Denzel Washington revisits any of his previous roles. The fact that this hasn’t happened already is astonishing in its own right.
It bares noting that I went into the sequel’s screening without having watched the original 2014 film. Let me tell you from the get go, I don’t recommend seeing sequels without their predecessor. It won’t be the first time nor will it be the last time. There are very few characters who return from the original film that it doesn’t really make a difference.
When the film starts out, Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) is riding a train towards Istanbul. We don’t know why he’s there but we later learn the reasons during a fight on said train. It probably goes without saying but whenever you see the likes of Liam Neeson or Denzel coming your way, your best bet is to just surrender. Otherwise, it’s not something that will end well.
McCall is still based in Boston, where he’s now working as a Lyft driver. There’s a montage of backseat customers but he has the most interaction with Holocaust survivor Sam Rubinstein (Orson Bean). The interactions with Sam more or less turn into more of a subplot that pays off late in the film. There’s another customer whose drunk upon pick up. It’s what McCall does after finding out the credit card was declined in which he does what he does best.
The main action here is that one of McCall’s former colleagues, Susan Plummer (Melissa Leo), turns up dead during a murder investigation. Someone is trying to tie up loose ends following the events of the previous film. Because people close to him end up getting hurt, it’s very personal on McCall’s end. It’s going to take everything that Robert knows in order to save the day. It’s up to Robert to figure out who is behind the murders and why.
After watching the first film, Harry Gregson-Williams’s score manages to keep some of the same melodies from the first film. By taking the action back home, it makes all the difference in the world. The film’s climax includes some great set pieces that take place on an island just off the mainland during a hurricane. If this isn’t a gutsy move to do, I don’t know what is!
Antoine Fuqua manages to get a solid performance out of Denzel. Bringing Miles (Ashton Sanders) into the fold allows McCall to become more of a father figure. It’s the interaction between the two that tells us just who McCall is as a person. The film may be billed as a thriller but honestly, it could truly double as a character study.
The moral of the story in Equalizer 2 is that if you don’t find yourself on Robert McCall’s bad side, you’re likely to be okay.
DIRECTOR: Antoine Fuqua
SCREENWRITER: Richard Wenk
CAST: Denzel Washington, Pedro Pascal, Ashton Sanders, with Bill Pullman and Melissa Leo