Released: 20th July
Seen: 22nd July
The Equalizer was a film that got released in September of 2017. The film, based on the 1985 TV series of the same name, followed the story of Robert McCall (Played by Denzel Washington), a former CIA operative who worked in a hardware store and tried to move on from his old life. However, after making friends with a young girl named Alina, he happens to stumble into a prostitution ring that Alina is caught up in and so Robert decided to go try and get her freedom. Along the way, he has to take on the Russian mob and the corrupt police to ensure that he can get her safety. He decides that he’s going to become The Equalizer and help those in need, it was a really good action film with some clever set pieces and a tight well-contained story that kept the tension running throughout.
You got all that? Good, because literally none of it matters in this movie. LITERALLY, NONE OF IT MATTERS WHATSOEVER! He’s no longer intentionally helping people who ask him for it (The final shot of the last film, not that it matters, is literally him setting up a website that people can contact him on to get help… that never comes up even once in this entire film), he just drives around in his Lyft and if someone happens to possibly need help, he’ll do it even if they didn’t intentionally ask for it. The trailer has possibly the best scene in the film where he goes up to a hotel room and just wails on a bunch of guys who clearly violated a young woman. That’s a great scene, it’s in the trailer, it’s possibly the best moment in the movie and it means NOTHING to the overall plot of the film. The first half of this film could’ve been cut, everything up to the stuff with Susan Plummer (Played by Melissa Leo) could be cut from the film and you would lose nothing of actual value.
There are subplots and there is filler and this film has more filler than the lips of everyone in West Hollywood. Entire storylines are created just to kill time and don’t mean anything once they’re done. There’s a sweet story with an elderly man looking for his sister that has no value to the plot, there’s an opening scene about retrieving a kidnapped child that means nothing whatsoever. There’s literally a subplot involving a gang (who are so hardcore that they literally spraypaint the word “GANG” on random walls, just because they can) that goes nowhere. It’s there one second, it’s gone the next and it is never in any way even referenced again. When we finally get to the actual main plot, it’s confusing and makes no actual sense. After a while, you force yourself to go along with the action and ignore the story because if they don’t care about it, why should I?
Speaking of things that no one cares about, the film is a visual mess. The last film had some cool shots, it was visually strong and used shadows gloriously to create a sense of tension. The sight of Denzel Washington standing on the street was intense and impactful, action scenes were viscerally painful and clever. You knew exactly where Denzel was, he was a tough guy to fight and knew exactly what he was doing at all times. The beautiful last fight under the sprinklers in the hardware store showed in ingenuity and made it clear how formidable he is. He knew his way around the architecture and you could tell where he was. In this film? Not only are there no cool shots, there are shots that make no sense. There’s one shot that’s just Denzel walking, his shadow cast over the bricks, and the frame is upside down… that’s a visual metaphor that has no purpose. Some action scenes are fine, and then you get big fight scenes where Denzel may as well be teleporting around and killing bad guys. He’s Jason Voorhees without the mask and it’s honestly annoying. There were several times when it’s hard to resist yelling “How did you get there! That is literally impossible!”
The characters this time are not even worth talking about. The only ones that return are the lead character and Susan Plummer, a character who had barely any scenes in the last movie (One, if I recall correctly) and is now a key player in this one, and Susan’s husband… Alina, the girl he saved? Never mentioned. Ralph, the lovable security guard who was Robert’s best friend throughout the last movie? Let’s assume he died because he sure as hell isn’t mentioned here. Jenny, the cashier who had to give her ring to someone who tried to rob the store? Who cares, she’s not here either. Actual people who have an actual connection with Robert are replaced with people he never mentioned before, his old home is replaced with… wherever he is now, it doesn’t actually matter. The last movie does not matter at all, now we have to deal with a new batch of characters who are boring and bland and have no purpose other than to pad out the end credits. At most there is exactly one character that has an actual point in being a part of this movie, that being Dave York (Played by Pedro Pascal) but other than him… it’s a cast that could be replaced by bags of flour and you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.
The storyline is, easily, the most haphazard element of this. This movie is based on a TV series and it feels like this is just three episodes of a TV series that have been sewn together, that’s how disjointed everything is. It’s actively trying to confuse the viewer, make it so that you get so stunned by how badly structured it is that you don’t notice that basic police work seemed to be ignored by people who aren’t crooked cops. You ignore things that even the main character should’ve noticed and don’t bother asking “How the hell does he get a panic room in a tiny apartment?” even though that’s a pretty big question and leads to one of the dumbest scenes in the movie.
The action setpieces are OK, they’re not great or really even that memorable, they’re OK. We don’t have anything as awesome as the hardware store scene from the last film and the coolest scene is, again, put in the trailer. Every other scene is either visually uninteresting, stupid in its very concept or just has Denzel popping up anywhere even when it’s literally impossible. You’ll get some things blowing up and maybe one or two moments of violence that’ll actually make you pay attention for about 5 seconds but, for the most part, it’s bland and boring and kind of makes you want to watch the paint drying out in the courtyard outside of Richard’s building. Sure it’s beige, but at least it might have a streak in it somewhere which could be visually interesting.
The only thing in this entire film I’m even really willing to praise is Denzel… mostly because it’s Denzel Goddamn Washington. The man is one of the greatest actors on the planet for a reason and he absolutely manages to pull out some good moments among the rubble. The scene in the trailer where he goes up to the hotel room is shortened for time, the full version really relies heavily on Denzel’s gravitas. His performance is really good, it just sucks that the film isn’t able to match the performance that he’s giving.
At the end of the day, The Equalizer 2 is a disappointing mess of a film. The muddled story, bland visuals, inconsistent pacing, a bland mess from start to finish that forgets that it’s a sequel and relies too much on the charm and talent of its lead who is trying his best to make it work but there are just some things that you cannot save and this film is one of those things.