Fans of Denzel Washington and action movies will find both elements in this satisfying sequel to 2014’s “The Equalizer.” Once again taking off from its original 1980s television series brand, “The Equalizer 2” presents Washington as a former CIA spook still settling scores. Believed by the clandestine world to be dead, Washington’s good-hearted vigilante character Robert McCall lives a quieter life, minus the side-hustle dishing out justice to bad guys who have it coming.
Action film director Antoine Fuqua, who teamed up with Washington in 2001’s “Training Day,” aptly offers more fisticuffs and awkwardly bent arms than this film’s predecessor. Unfortunately, while more action scenes take place in this movie there’s a drop-off in overall suspense and storytelling. In fact, it can be argued that in this movie we learn more about the lower tiered, supporting characters than we do Washington’s.
All the serious confrontations by Washington applying justice can be seen coming from three city blocks away. A murky script, with several less enthralling subplots, takes away from a deeper dive into the killing of one of the main character’s long-time friends. With too many other moving parts thrown into the storyline, the film’s underlying main plot suffers from any real suspense or tension imparted upon the audience.
In 2008, Liam Neeson’s “Taken” really set the bar for successful action thrillers using a simplistic plot with high energy suspense scenes. That same action thriller mold originated back in director Brian De Palma’s 1996 debut of the “Mission: Impossible” big-screen series. More recently, this year’s “Death Wish” reboot starring Bruce Willis gave us a very compelling linear plot with serious nail-biting scenes within that movie’s vigilante story.
“The Equalizer 2” provides a satisfying continuation of the Robert McCall character. No more, no less. Moviegoers who enjoy Washington’s work as much as I do will leave the theater feeling like he gave another great performance despite a so-so narrative. The most enjoyable scenes start the film and get sprinkled into the mix over the next two hours.
Those wanting more action and sweaty palms may get their wish in this week’s release of the sixth “Mission: Impossible” installment with Tom Cruise. After watching the astonishing movie trailer for “Mission: Impossible – Fallout,” it appears this chapter might be the best one in the series since 1996. Count me in. Feel free to join me at the AMC Loews Foothills 15 theater this Thursday at 7 pm to see if this film’s action and suspense exceeds “The Equalizer 2.”