Film Review: Washington is bright spot in generic sequel to The Equalizer

The Equalizer 2. Pictured: Denzel Washington as Robert McCall. Picture: PA PHOTO/SONY PICTURES ENTE

The Equalizer 2. Pictured: Denzel Washington as Robert McCall. Picture: PA PHOTO/SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT INC/GLEN WILSON

Denzel Washington and director Antoine Fuqua team up for the fourth time for this sequel to 2014’s The Equalizer – a film loosely based on the 1980s British television series starring Edward Woodward.

Despite the pair’s storied careers, this film interestingly marks the first time either Washington or Fuqua have worked on a sequel.

With that fact in mind, it is perhaps telling that this film plays very much as a standalone piece, requiring little to no knowledge of the original.

Washington stars as former CIA operative Robert McCall, now quietly working as a taxi driver while dispatching his own unflinching brand of justice on behalf of the oppressed.

A prologue set in Turkey shows McCall has lost none of his meticulous planning skills and razor-sharp reactions as he expertly dispatches a train carriage full of aggressive goons in order to rescue a young girl.

When his friend and former colleague Susan Plummer (Melissa Leo) gets caught up in an assassination plot involving an under cover agent, McCall is drawn into a conspiracy where the stakes are much more personal.

Pedro Pascal stars as his former partner Dave York and the impressive cast also includes Moonlight star Ashton Sanders and Bill Pullman.

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Pullman plays Brian Plummer, husband to Melissa Leo’s character, but is unfortunately given precious little to do in what amounts to nothing more than a bit-part.

Washington himself is reliable as ever and delivers another thoroughly convincing performance, but overall the film only partially manages to capture the essence of the original.

The shorter side stories that weave through the narrative, work much better than the bigger overarching plot, which is incredibly transparent and includes twists you can see coming a mile off.

The violent final battle set in a stormy seaside town feels cliched and is rather predictable.

The Equalizer 2 is not a bad movie, just a rather ordinary one.

The likes of Pascal and Sanders do well with the material they are given but they deserved a better script than this.

The film is worth watching, if only for the compelling performance of the always engaging Washington, who manages to elevate what is otherwise a fairly generic action movie with the occasional thrill but very few surprises.

The Equalizer 2 is showing at the Regal from September 28.