This surprise Denz-sploitation sequel is neatly effective in places but will leave you with little appetite for thirds.
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 and screenwriter Richard Wenk, 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.
Washington’s Robert McCall is still lying low in Boston, now working as a Lyft driver and helping out his neighbors, including a high-schooler (Moonlight’s Ashton Sanders) flirting with bad elements and an elderly man (Being John Malkovich's Orson Bean!) 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 (one gets disfigured with his own Platinum card), 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.
Cast and crew