By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)

Actor Denzel Washington and director Antoine Fuqua return for the second installment of this film series.  Even though this chapter offers a more compelling and higher stakes story than its predecessor, this attempt at a slow burner, takes way too long to pick up steam.  Fuqua and his crew do manage to deliver visceral action and intensity, but struggle to completely hook their audience and keep them completely riveted throughout the movie’s two-hour run time.

Washington reprises his role as Robert McCall, a former C.I.A. operative who utilizes his impressive skill set to help the powerless.  After successfully accomplishing a rescue mission, McCall tries to keep a low profile as a Lyft driver.  After his beloved friend, Susan Plummer (Melissa Leo), gets murdered while investigating a mysterious assassination, McCall decides to investigate and uncovers an ugly plot which hits close to home.  After this startling discovery, he must use his wits and talents to survive and protect the innocent people closest to him.

Written by Richard Wenk, The Equalizer 2 proves to be a better film than the first one, but the filmmakers try  too hard to make this a slow-burning thriller with way too much build up to the action and thrills.  The movie does have a more personal and powerful story for the protagonist that barely ovetcomes its staggering pacing in the earlier acts.  Once the movie is firing on all cylanders, it still lanages to offer audiences incendiary and intensely violent action.

Denzel once again gives a charming, but deliberately pensive performance as intelligent and caring badass Robert McCall.  It is a role he owns well, but just hasn’t been given a great film to really shine as bright as he can.  Pedro Pascal joins the franchise as McCall’s former partner Dave York. He gives a decent, but somewhat undynamic performance.  Ashton Sanders, who really impressed me in 2016’s Academy Award-winning best picture Moonlight, gives another impressive turn as McCall’s troubled neighbor and friend Miles Whittaker.  The movie also stars Bill Pullman, Melissa Leo, Orson Bean, and Sakira Jaffrey– all of whom deliver fine work.

And the word fine is the perfect word to describe this movie simply.  I did enjoy it overall, but like the first Equalizer, I feel that it leaves much to be desired.  That might be asking a lot from a movie based on a slightly cheesy 80s television series, but a good director like Antoine Fuqua frankly needs a better script to pull that off.



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