The Equalizer 2

‘The Equalizer 2’ Review: Dumb Sequel = Waste of Denzel’s Talents

'The Equalizer 2'

Movie Rating:


I half hoped that Denzel Washington’s decision to do his first sequel, teaming up yet again with director Antoine Fuqua, would somehow result in something brilliant. One never knows, we could be treated to a scintillating action-thriller expanding upon the impetus of a quiet, ex-Army Lyft driver who spends his spare time balancing injustice through acts of bravery and uncompromising violence. Not so much, unfortunately.

There’s a moment in ‘The Equalizer 2’ when these traits are described in superheroic terms, and it’s clear that the sequel’s script toys with contemporary big-canvas comic book tropes. Even the likes of the ‘Mission: Impossible’ films are echoed here, particularly in a set-piece that takes place (for no reason seemingly other than cinematic convenience) on an Istanbul-bound train.

Upon returning to his quiet life in the U.S., we see Robert McCall (Washington) go about his angel-like deeds, righting wrongs for elderly Holocaust victims and immigrant gardeners alike. However, when his own world is turned upside down by a betrayal, he must confront his past, turning the film into a kind of cat-and-mouse chase set, naturally, in the midst of a hurricane.

The supremely frustrating thing about ‘The Equalizer 2’ is how stupid the movie is despite a really smart, compelling screen presence by Washington. When he’s providing quiet retorts or beaming his sardonic, electric smile, it’s a sheer delight. Sadly, while the actor’s performance is perfectly calibrated, the storyline betrays his craft, piling on more and more preposterous things that take away from the subtle notes he’s offering.

The finale is the most egregious, but save for some fatherly advice, his relationship with one of the main people he supports plays more like a lecture than a real connection. What could be a neat twist on the damsel-in-distress trope instead becomes frustrating, leaving viewers to wonder just what it would take for even an abandoned seaside town to have some police presence take an interest.

The “But it’s just a movie” excuse is exactly why the failure of these moments irks so much. It’s clear that the thespian in the lead is giving an empathetic performance in a movie that frankly doesn’t deserve it. At best, this is a procedural with the same kludgy impact as the original TV show (which was also pretty dumb aside from a great turn by Edward Woodward). Hell, throw in more echoes to Stuart Copeland’s original theme and maybe I would have been more forgiving.

Instead, we’re left with a dull, dreary, debilitatingly rote film that wastes the likes of Washington, Melissa Leo, Bill Pullman, Pedro Pascal, and the rest of the cast in a trite, trivial mess. ‘The Equalizer 2’ is a gormless, grim bit of nonsense that’s has some terrific talent running around trying to make it all work, failing despite all their best efforts to inject more than this storyline deserves. Denzel may be great in it, but this is one ‘Equalizer’ that’s clearly run out of power.


  1. njscorpio

    I’ve only seen his first ‘Equalizer’ once, and I didn’t care for it. Maybe I need to rewatch it, but in the realm of old actors picking up guns and kicking ass, I found it a bit too dreary/unexciting. It seemed too much like ‘Taken’, with the editing and scripting used to convey that Denzel had much more ability than he really does. Again, it’s been awhile, but it just seemed…bad. Not nearly worth the praise it was given.

    Now, on the other hand, look at something like Jackie Chan’s ‘The Foreigner’. Here you have an older actor who actually does have the skills the character supposedly has, allowing for action sequences that are engaging and easy on the eyes. You also end up with an actor whose actions convey the efforts needed, and it makes things all that much more exciting. If Denzel is floating around a movie like he has Doom’s God Mode turned on, the tension just isn’t there.

    Denzel is such an excellent dramatic actor…sure we all loved him in ‘Training Day’, but I think it’s time for him to focus on more movies like ‘Fences’.


      @njscorpio: I take grave offense to your comment; not in your dislike of the movie, but what you’re suggesting about Denzel. What you’re doing reeks of typecasting (and yes, by saying he should stick to movies along the line of “Fences”, is doing exactly that). First off, it’s not as if “Training Day” and “The Equalizer” are the only two action films he’s done (have you forgotten about “Ricochet”, “Man on Fire”, & “Safe House”?). It’s not a question about you liking them but to say he shouldn’t say do these kind of roles because you don’t see it is absurd. It’s not as if he’s in his 80’s trying to play a role 20-30 yrs his junior doing Matrix-style fight choreography; Denzel is STILL a virile-looking man more than capable of defending himself should the situation arises (if you encountered him in person and a physical confrontation between the 2 of you were imminent, are you going to laugh & shrug him off like an invalid? Or, are you going to put up your dukes because you might get yo’ ass whooped if you don’t?). Once again, this isn’t criticizing you for disliking “The Equalizer”; but, just because YOU can’t envision him in these types of roles, doesn’t mean he shouldn’t play them.

          • Funny that Amman’s name was in all caps for the first comment, indicating his GRAVE offense 🙂 Once he realized he was overreaching, he went back to a normal user name.

      • njscorpio

        “Denzel is STILL a virile-looking man more than capable of defending himself should the situation arises”

        Umm….I don’t know about that.

        He has a great history of intense action roles, but he is getting older (and older). ‘Taken’ was fun at first, but became a sad joke about Neson needing 30 cuts to “jump” a fence. I don’t want to see Denzel go that route with Equalizer III. He is an EXCELLENT actor, and something even along the lines of ‘Unstoppable’ suits him better.


    @Julian: not understanding why that was funny; if you must know, when I was responding to nj’s comment, I was on my home pc (where auto-fill is set to on). When I responded to Josh, I was on a different computer. And while I admit using grave might have been a bit much, it doesn’t take away from my rebuttal to the aforementioned offense in nj’s post.

    • All in good humour, Amman. As a font-nerd, I thought it was funny that you alternated between an ALL-CAPS name and a name in normal font. As if your anger cooled down between two comments. I meant nothing mean-spirited by my comment.


        Not really angry; I guess using “grave offense”, one would think I’m teeming with rage (I’m not). Just merely pointing out why it was out-of-pocket for nj to make that statement; no hard feelings, Julian.

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