If you stick around long enough in Hollywood, you will make a sequel.
At least that is how it has played out for Denzel Washington who with The Equalizer 2, joins the ranks of modern day icons like Tom Cruise, Will Smith and Eddie Murphy who have had sequels of successful movies commissioned. It isn’t quite clear while Washington would hold out for this long, considering Hollywood has been driven by franchises for the greater part of the last two decades.
The Equalizer was a curious choice in the first place. Directed by Antoine Fuqua, the original, released in 2014 was not exactly a sure thing. Even though studio heads began entertaining the idea of kick starting a franchise before the release of The Equalizer, such a prospect would only be possible if Denzel Washington committed fully.
Then there is also the important matter of profitability to consider. As a straight-out revenge popcorn action flick starring Denzel Washington, The Equalizer was always going to do well but to justify a sequel it needed to do better than well, both domestic and overseas.
Debuting number one at the US box office and concluding its run with a total worldwide gross of about 190 million dollars, with over half of those earnings coming from abroad, a sequel was all but guaranteed.
And so it is that Mr Washington returns as Robert McCall, a former marine and intelligence operative who dips in and out of the business often enough. Following the loss of his wife, McCall lives in a Boston apartment complex. He is the perfect neighbor, helpful without being nosy, sharply aware of his surroundings and prepared to serve as mentor those who need some straightening out. He also spends his time by working as a Lyft driver and in the course of this preoccupation, rights wrongs and avenges misdeeds.
Because of his long years in the field and the relative anonymity that he enjoys, McCall has anointed himself the victim’s executioner, acting as both judge and executioner wherever wrong has been done. Justice is his to deliver and he does so with relish, leaving a trail of blood and broken bones in his wake.
The main attraction of The Equalizer 2 and other films which Denzel Washington has done (Man on Fire, The Magnificent Seven) is to watch him kick ass. Here, Mr Washington is in fine form, rarely breaking a sweat as he takes on guys much younger and sometimes much heavier than him.
The murder of a trusted friend brings the situation home for McCall and tosses him back into the deep waters he may or may not have left behind. In order to serve justice, McCall does some investigating, escapes death a few times and draws the culprits to his country home for one last shootout.
Anyone else would buckle under the sheer number and determination of these enemies but not the cinematic American hero- Washington is a patron- who considers the outnumbering a challenge to be fixed by their moral courage and unending skill at violence.
Needless to say that McCall smokes out every last one of his antagonists in various states of play that must surely turn audiences worldwide into blood thirsty savages.
The Equalizer 2 is a competent, satisfying actioner that gets the job done as effectively as possible. Thankfully, there are no big shoes for The Equalizer 2 to fill here as the forgettable first flick rarely comes to mind at all. The violence is stylish and thrilling enough but the movie plods along when things aren’t racing for another violent confrontation. At about 120 minutes running time, it would have been tons more effective at a shorter length.
An eye for an eye, the good book says and Mr Washington is here to bring the word to fruition. How long till Hollywood casts him in a superhero flick?