Directed by: Antoine Fuqua – Starring: Denzel Washington, Pedro Pascal, Ashton Sanders, Bill Pullman, Melissa Leo
As much as I love Denzel Washington (love might be an understatement!), I was surprised when he was cast in the big-screen version of classic 80s TV show, The Equalizer. I just never really saw him in a role like that. However, he did a fine job filling the shoes of the late Edward Woodward, so it is hardly surprising that a sequel has now landed.
Robert McCall (Washington) is still dispensing his own brand of vigilante justice to help those in need by night, while living a quiet nondescript life by day. He has taken a teenager in his building under his wing, and is working as a Lyft driver. However, when his former mother-in-law, Susan (Leo) is killed while investigating an apparent murder-suicide in Brussels, Robert has no choice but to investigate what really happened to her, and bring her killer to justice, even if they happen to be someone close to home.
Antoine Fuqua helms again, and you would think that reuniting the dream team would yield some gritty results. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always prove to be the case here. The pacing feels much slower than the first movie, and there are a lot of sub-plots and loose ends to keep track of.
For example, we never learn the reason for the staged murder-suicide in Brussels, meaning that it seems inconsequential, and you don’t really care about it. It seems like a plot point that has been shoehorned in.
Washington is of course brilliant. I don’t think he could give a bad performance if he tried. And when he is given moments of brilliance in the script, he takes them and runs with them. However, Fuqua seems to want to take his time with this, and everything seems to happen so slowly that you often lose interest before the payoff.
Throughout the film, we are made aware that a hurricane is coming, and lo and behold, the final big set-piece takes place during the storm. Unfortunately, Fuqua really, really, wants us to hear the intensity of the storm, which leads to some rather dodgy sound-mixing. I completely get what he was trying to do, but it just doesn’t work here. It looks great, and Denzel more than has the action-chops to pull it off. But the noise of the sea and wind is very distracting, and even detracts somewhat from the scene, as you can’t always hear the dialogue properly.
If you liked the first one, this is essentially more of the same, just not executed as succinctly. It doesn’t live up to its promise, and is somewhat disappointing overall. It is basically a standard vigilante thriller, but could have been so much more.
If you lower your expectations somewhat, you will find this entertaining, but if you expect the bar to be as high as the first one, you will find this a let-down.
In Cinemas August 17th!