“The Equalizer 2” is not for the Faint of Heart as Denzel Washington returns as Robert McCall


By Liz Lopez

Rating: B-

Director Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day”) and screenwriter Richard Wenk (“The Equalizer”) bring back Denzel Washington to the character of Robert McCall for the sequel, “The Equalizer 2,” an adaptation of the television series created by Michael Sloan and Richard Lindheim. This action, crime thriller starts off with a serious, disguised McCall reading on a train, and in minutes, he shows his skill on taking out bad guys in order to get to the target he seeks and recover a kidnapped child. It is not long after that we see him visiting a bookstore in his neighborhood and see the fruits of his labor.

In the “The Equalizer 2,” we learn more about this character, his life (both personal and professional), without an extensive dialogue. There is a conversation between McCall and his ex-partner Dave (Pedro Pascal) where the two discuss what used to be, where the former partners chose to go and where they are headed.

Washington’s talent to swing this character’s personality from a kind neighbor to a trained assassin/ vigilante is complete perfection. There are times during the very dramatic scenes that close up shots of his face and body language is enough to make you turn away in fear of peril. And you are only in the theater, not face to face!

McCall is a widower, reads novels, and trusts his friends, Brian (Bill Pullman) and Susan Plummer (Melissa Leo) who obviously has a connection to his past – and present. Susan forms part of the team that knows his skills and abilities when assigned by his superiors to terminate someone. From several scenes throughout the film, we see him acting on his own to right any wrongs he may see and hear of. He lives simply in a small apartment and drives for Lyft. He has a small circle of favorite neighbors he watches out for and helps. One prominent character is an elderly Holocaust survivor Sam Rubinstein (Orson Bean) who he chauffeurs and listens to in rides to the print shop or his retirement home.

McCall also takes interest in a teenager from his building, Miles Whittaker (Ashton Sanders, “Moonlight,” “Straight Outta Compton”), with great artistic skills, yet is only one step away from making life choices that will hurt his future career. Sanders’ proven talent in past films certainly shines here and does not disappoint in this film with his great performance.

There is plenty of action in this film to satisfy most fans of individuals with this set of assassin skills. While I totally enjoyed the script and the performances, I still left the theater questioning a couple of scenes. I can only guess that we, the viewers are supposed to suspend real life for the duration of the film. One scene I question is how he is on the clock with Lyft, views what he determines is a young woman that has been assaulted, and soon returns to the “party scene” the girl came from in order to “talk” to the perpetrators. Well, we know how McCall handles those matters. Wouldn’t McCall be traced somehow since he is a Lyft driver taking action on a Lyft customer? Another scene as a Lyft driver, he has to fight off the Lyft rider packing a giant knife and gun in the backseat. After surviving the attack, how does he report “the delivery” of his rider? What about the car set on fire? I guess we shouldn’t care – just know that McCall can beat them all – including a raging hurricane in an evacuated seaside town where the final scenes take place. He must have some special glass on the home and know how to bury bodies before the town folk return to their weather beaten homes.

One seriously hard to watch scene is when Susan (Leo’s character) is assaulted in a hotel room while on an international assignment. Her husband Brian (Pullman) is rescued before he is the next victim and yet, we don’t see him again in the film.

While there is plenty of reasons for the film to receive the R MPAA rating, Denzel fans will not want to miss him in action and fully displaying the talent we have grown accustomed to.

The running time is two hours and will be released in theaters nationwide on July 20th. Check your local theaters for Thursday show times in your city.

Source: Columbia Pictures

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