I was not expecting much as I walked into “The Equalizer 2.” The plot of the film was shaky to say the least. But, with a commendable main cast and serviceable action scenes, was this film saved from its lackluster plot?
A sequel to the original 2014 film and directed by Antoine Fuqua, the plot follows former military operative Robert McCall (portrayed by Denzel Washington), as he sets out to avenge his close friend, who, in a possible conspiracy, has been murdered. The film also has two subplots: one as Robert befriends a young neighbor at risk of turning to a life of crime, and another where Robert assists an elderly man in tracking down his lost relative.
The film’s style of action lies somewhere between “shaky-cam” and “John Wick”. You can kind of tell what is going on, but it is not as graceful as a John Woo film. I was often annoyed by the pace of the cuts during the fights, but it could have been much worse. I was surprised to find that it did get more violent than expected, which could explain the film’s R rating (though it didn’t really deserve it). The other important concern about the fight scenes is how frequent they are. The film has a disappointingly low amount of action, and, coupled with the uneven and lingering plot, the lack of startling scenes is incredibly noticeable.
As for the main plot, the film actually starts out pretty well. Some good action scenes and plot to move the movie forward, with a serviceable but conventional soundtrack accompanying it. However, the plot quickly starts meandering. The thing about the plot is that it takes seemingly forever to get going with the main story, and, even then, the film lingers on its subplots to an annoying degree; one ended up being a complete waste of run time, making it worse. There is no central villain introduced until pretty much the last part of the movie, which does not work to its benefit. Lastly, there is also a plot twist mixed in that can seen from a mile away.
The only thing saving the movie from being a total trainwreck is the cast. Denzel Washington seems to always be the best part in everything he is in, and for Washington this film is no exception. I totally buy Washington being a disciplined killing machine that looks out for the little guy. Pedro Pascal (who portrays an ally of McCall), also gave a great performance, but he is criminally underutilized, just like in 2017’s “Kingsman: The Golden Circle”. The rest of the cast aren’t interesting enough to pull you out of the story- it is the story that is making you scratch your head- and, although it is conventional, it could have been done so much better and been way more entertaining. The film’s useless plot lines and meandering weaken it.
Overall, the biggest thing holding down “The Equalizer 2” is the uneven and predictable plot. It starts out strong, but then goes down, gets a bit better, but never seems to be memorable. While Denzel Washington is fantastic for what he is given, he and the rest of the cast deserve a fun, more even-paced and well thought-out story. The action is better than expected, but the plot just makes it not worth writing home about, and the cast and crew deserve a better story to tell.