The Equalizer 2 – 3/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

The Equalizer 2 – 3/5 – Sequels are created for two reasons: fan demand or results of the original’s success.  Regardless of either, there is worth in trying to capture the magic of the first.  If there is no clear direction or relevant story, it will fail to reach the fanfare of the original.  The Equalizer 2 tries to build upon the first, with so-so results.  With a strong lead at the helm, it is brought down because of the script.  The Equalizer 2 provides entertainment, but it becomes another average action film.

Premise: As Robert McCall serves justice from the shadows, he is dragged back into an unsettling death.  With all on the line, the past comes to play to question the truth of his actions.

Returning to the role of Robert McCall is Denzel Washington.  He does a fantastic job bringing McCall to life on the big screen.  By exuding strength, charm and honest convictions; he layers the cliché ‘elder statesmen’ archetype with sophistication.  Through his subtle mannerisms and stark delivery, it provides perspective to his past deeds.  There are raw sensibilities within his interactions, providing worth to ongoing relationships (past and present).  It gives relevancy to Washington’s approach, providing strong values through current conflicts.  No matter the commonplace, the presence of a great actor carries generalized descriptions.  For the rest of the cast, please refer to the film’s IMDb page.  From the returners to newcomers, the ancillary characters are nothing more than rudimentary archetypes.  From the Gov’t agents, villain lackeys, etc., they become throwaway characters used as ‘obstacles’ or ‘background’ elements to McCall’s journey.  Being one-note characters reveal the predictable elements of the plot, giving no levels to compliment the lead character’s progression.

There are two ways to focus a sequel.  It can be a ‘continuation’ of prior plot threads or ‘episodic’; a rehashing of previous elements in a different setting.  The script ‘attempts’ to combine both elements, with a lack of sheer development.  With scant details construing a simplistic approach, the director puts all the focus on the main character.  This allows for the heart of the film to center on Robert McCall.  Having him as the focal point helps lift a story that is littered with action cliché and spy/espionage trope used as bullet points in a one-dimensional outline.  With lazy setups, you have a montage of scenes that sets the ‘purpose’ of the story (first act), showing off how McCall uses his skills to help/stop random scenarios while driving around Boston.  Once the ‘action’ is set in place, an allusion to an overseas murder drags McCall out of the shadows.  With a mixture of expositional style dialogue, gruesome action scenes and heavy foreshadowing, the predictable motions of ‘who, what and where’ shines a glaring lens on the outcome.  When this happens, you already know where everything will end.  This creates a situation where the enjoyment solely lingers on ‘how much confidence’ you have in the lead actor.  By continuing this linear path of cliché one-liners, mind-numbing decisions and predictable dialogue, it is the intrigue of McCall and his motives that keep you engaged (second act).  There is a lot of repetition, but the greatness of Denzel carries the film.  His emotional fervor heightens a lazy script that would otherwise be monotonous if led by a novice actor.  Once all the elements of the conspiracy come to the forefront (third act), the obvious turns into an ode towards 90’s action elements.  With a combination of one-on-one combat, convenient confrontational marks and last second saves, you have a sandbox that strays away from innovation but stays strong in entertainment.  The action is raw, providing shock value and ominous tones around every corner.  This leads to a climax that becomes a classic ‘standoff’ between the hero and villain.  Once the epilogue comes, the subtle hints of a peaceful outcome shows that there is still some worth in this flawed ride.

The visuals are on-par with the first film.  Keeping the setting within an urban landscape (minus the final act), you get a sense of believability to fictitious detail.  With this kind of contrast, it provides ‘shock’ to certain set pieces and one-on-one combat scenarios.  This adds raw emotions to outcomes, bringing up the enjoyment levels.  The score is mute at best, not adding any value to the film.

The Equalizer 2 is your run-of-the-mill action sequel, but it is enjoyable to a point.  For the greatness of the lead, you are humbled by the flaws in the generic script.  Within that solemn note, you become aware of its value.  If you’re a fan of the lead or the first film, check this out.  It is worth seeing at a matinee.

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