Directed by Antoine Fuqua
Based on the television series The Equalizer created by Michael Sloan, Richard Lindheim
Screenplay by Richard Wenk
Starring: Denzel Washington, Pedro Pascal, Melissa Leo, Jonathan Scarfe, Ashton Sanders
Robert McCall (Washington) is living a quiet life, trying to help the people around him. When a tragedy strikes one of his oldest friends, McCall goes into action. Now he’s forced to revisit his past as he looks to make things right.
This film is the followup to 2014’s The Equalizer. (Both films are loosely based on the 1985 television series of the same name, created by Michael Sloan and Richard Lindheim.) Richard Wenk (Jack Reacher: Never Go Back) returned as the screenwriter, with Antoine Fuqua (Southpaw) back as director. Denzel Washington (American Gangster) and Melissa Leo (The Big Short) both return to reprise their roles from the first film. (This is Washington’s first time doing a sequel to one of his films.) The cast also features a lot of new faces, including Pedro Pascal (The Adjustment Bureau), Jonathan Scarfe (The Poet), and Ashton Sanders (Moonlight).
Richard Wenk did a nice job bringing this one right back into the world of the first film. The opening sequence is quick, intense, and a lot of fun. From there, the story moves into the central plot through some interesting events. The new characters in this one are well-written, and the stakes for the film are raised to a higher level than the previous one. The action sequences also hit a little harder than the previous film. The story does seem a little predictable at times. This is partly due to a number of sub-plots that often seem to distract from the main arc of the film. The dialogue in this one is mostly good, but there are moments that feel a little campy. Overall, this one doesn’t quite pay off as well as the first film. The suspense of the first film seems to be missing for most of the movie. The story also seems to lose focus at times, and never really provides the hook that would keep the audience more connected. While it’s not bad, it’s not great either.
Denzel Washington can elevate material in ways that a lot of actors can’t. This film is no exception. The highlight of the performances comes from his return as Robert McCall. His performance in this one brings a little more humanity to the role. He also brings back the intensity and darkness that the film needs. Melissa Leo also does a nice job returning to the film. Her connection with Washington is really solid. The new faces also do decent work in this one. Pedro Pascal was a great choice for his role in this one. He has a natural controlled intensity that works well with his character. Jonathan Scarfe and Ashton Sanders also do good work. There might be some weaker performances, but the cast does do great work with the action sequences.
So I think it’s fair to say that Antoine Fuqua is an action guy. This movie, like the first, is really at its best when the action kicks in. The camera work and choreography combine to create some really intense moments. The film also has some very inventive sequences that lead to great payoffs. With solid visuals and audio work, there isn’t a lot to complain about. (Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot that stands out either.)
This is a fun sequel that connects nicely with the characters and story of the first film. If you liked the first one, this is worth watching. I would also suggest this one to fans of crime dramas and action films. You don’t necessarily need to see the first film before checking this one out. It’s worth noting that this is graphic at times, and has a lot of intense violence. I give this one 3.2 out of 5 stars.