As a former CIA assassin-turned-vigilante, Denzel Washington was easily the best thing about the dour first ‘Equalizer’ movie. The sequel(izer), reteaming him with director Antoine Fuqua, is an improvement – in part because, unlike many action-film second courses, it doesn’t just hurl its hero into fresh mayhem. There’s a pleasing, easy-going rhythm to the first half of ‘Equalizer 2’ that allows the bursts of brutal violence to connect as intended.
This time out, Washington’s Robert McCall is working as a Boston cab driver and helping out his neighbours, including a high-schooler flirting with bad elements and an elderly man trying to reclaim an heirloom. Less conspicuously, he’s also a violent righter of wrongs and avenger of the innocent – both at home and abroad.
It’s satisfying enough to watch McCall take out a bunch of intern-abusing corporate bros, and a whole film in which he takes on such real-world scum feels like a fun idea. Instead, the plot kicks in and the film becomes a rote, if well-crafted, lone-man-against-a-global-conspiracy melodrama. Washington has the quiet authority, and Fuqua the stylistic chops, but the story they’re telling becomes more predictable as it goes along. Once it’s over, you won’t necessarily be itching for an ‘Equalizer 3’.