I watched Equalizer 1 (2014) a few years ago with a friend of mine and quite enjoyed it, so when the same friend visited last weekend we decided to watch Equalizer 2.
The basic plot, without giving too many spoilers away, is about revenge. A close friend of Robert McCall — who is the lead character, played by Denzel Washington — is killed and McCall sets about avenging her death.
The film realises this plot in two halves. The first half shows us the roots of the plot intertwined with short sub-scenes demonstrating how tough and able to handle himself McCall is. For the avoidance of doubt this turns out to be ‘very’. The second half covers the revenge spree McCall embarks upon.
A number of unlikely things occur throughout the film: McCall and his adversaries have a storm-beleaguered town entirely to the themselves and everyone seems to kill and maim without generating the slightest interest from the police. But suspension of belief is par for the course with many action films these days and Equalizer 2 is no worse than other action movies in that respect.
Denzel Washington is a good actor and he reprises the roll of Robert McCall well enough. He must have seen something in the character because this is the first ever sequel Washington has signed up for (and both of the Equalizer films are of course based on the 1980s TV series of the same name).
If I had to pick a main criticism it would be that the plot’s a little obvious. It follows a fairly predictable path and there’s little in the way of twists and turns or surprises.
PostTrak rated the film as 86% and CinemaScore gave it an ‘A’, although many critics were less than impressed:
"The Equalizer 2 delivers the visceral charge of a standard vigilante thriller, but this reunion of trusted talents ultimately proves a disappointing case study in diminishing returns." (Rotten Tomatoes, who gave it a 51% approval rate)
"The good news is that the fans of Antoine Fuqua's The Equalizer—a bland and pulpy 2014 riff on the '80s TV series of the same name—are in for more of the same. The bad news is that the rest of us are, too." (IndieWire, who gave it a C-)
But it was engaging enough to hold my attention and, as action movies go, it’s as enjoyable as others in the genre. I’d watch it again, even if I’m in no particular rush to do so, and I’d watch an Equalizer 3 if there were to be one.
I think Equalizer 1 is the better of the two films, mainly because I think the plot hangs together more coherently, but there’s not a lot to choose between them.