The Equalizer 2 English Movie
Denzel Washington is back and so is his frequent collaborator, director Antoine Fuqua. The Equalizer was a reasonable box office success. Why not make a sequel with the same core team and make a few more bucks? Denzel knows why not.
Equalizer 2 is only his first sequel in a long and illustrious career. It's not for the lack of opportunity. It has been a conscious decision by him to stay away from cashgrabs that have no reason to exist. Had been.
The film that has managed to lure him away from his precious principle turns out to be no better than any other potential sequels for any of his previous films, a mostly predictable and functional vehicle for his star power, charisma and gravitas.
The sequel follows Denzel reprising his retired Agent McCall character from the first film, once again coming out of retirement (but this time, it's personal, as dictated by the "Cliches of the Tired Sequel" handbook.) His friend from the agency is killed in an attempted theft. But was it just a theft or something more? Who better to investigate it than a presumed dead, evangelist, child-kidnapper-killer ex-agent? Thrown into the mix is an Asian lady who loves gifting him organic vegetables, a troubled but artistic black youth, an aged Holocaust survivor looking for proof to obtain his long-lost sister's portrait, a hurricane (?) and double-crossing agents, and you have way more going on than the deliberate slow pacing of the narrative can handle.
Not to blame the pacing, though. I appreciated the character study-like approach that Fuqua takes to the material he has been handed over along with a bag full of cash. He, of all people, realizes the restraint and the pain that Denzel can bring to a character and Fuqua takes his time peering into the life McCall has to leave behind in order to do what he needs to do. His interactions with the locals and his passengers (he moonlights as a cab driver) are sometimes overly sentimental but add a grounded feeling to the proceedings.
It's the writing from Richard Wenk that is the problem. The grounded interactions with tertiary characters is the best made out of endlessly elongated unnecessary subplots that bring the pace further down from the otherwise temperate pacing of Fuqua's direction. Never mind the twist reveal that anyone with any experience watching films of any caliber will have figured out within the first 30 or so mins.
Denzel and Fuqua make the best of the limp writing and carry the film to its underwhelming finale in terms of its anticipated confrontation. Denzel is particularly convincing emotionally (not as much physically, though) in the film's portions that deal with his loss and pain and what drives him to risk his life out of the goodness of his heart. Other actors are all adept, if unspectacular.
Denzel and Fuqua's 4th collaboration may not be their best, not that it's their fault, but they keep the popcorn crunchy as long as there's bones to be crunched.