In The Equalizer 2, we follow unassuming Lyft driver Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) through the storied streets of Boston. His passengers reveal their touching struggles and ambitions out loud (suspended disbelief required).
When McCall is not driving, he mentors Miles (Ashton Sanders), a troubled youth with gang affiliations, who has the potential to be an artist. McCall also has relationships with a Holocaust survivor, the gardener of his building, and two colleagues from a more glamorous and secret second career. Ah yes, the joy of living in the gig economy.
McCall is a busy man. He is also, without any doubt, the good guy. As McCall rescues those who need saving from the unjust chaos of the world, the main story begins with a murder. Longtime friend and colleague Susan Plummer (Melissa Leo) is murdered, and it is up to McCall to find the killer and take his revenge.
Just as in the first film, the plot in The Equalizer 2 is involved and disjointed. There is a main plot, but there are also plenty of side stories ostensibly inserted to create more elaborate fight scenes, reaffirm Robert McCall’s upstanding character, and shout about how injustice affects everyone at every age. Indeed, it does.
Everything is quite literal, from the suggested reading material in the opening scene (Ta-Nehisi Coates’ 2015 book Between the World and Me) to the very title of the film. What is he equalizing? The answer is always injustice. The satisfaction comes from watching him defeat his enemies by using his fists, guns, blades, and the best weapon of the film — a harpoon.
The fight scenes were satisfyingly brutal and timed (his trademark is to time how long it takes him to beat up the bad guys). His watch is also quite fashionable. One will certainly notice how McCall has an inexplicable amount of disposable income. Extensive international travel, exploding cars, and paying Miles to paint the building are all paid in full.
Some of the best parts of the film included the small comical exchanges between Denzel Washington and Ashton Sanders. The actors took banal writing material and made it funny and relatable. This speaks to their talent. Many actors would have turned Robert McCall into a caricature, but Denzel Washington manages to add depth with his quintessential earnestness that can be seen in many films, but most excellently in the 2012 film Flight, in which he plays a hopeless alcoholic.
In The Equalizer 2, the need for audiences to see injustice and disorder turn into justice and order is quite satisfyingly achieved. Fans of the genre will certainly enjoy the suspenseful and ferociously violent final showdown. ~Ari Derin
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