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“The Equalizer 2” Review: A worthy sequel

You can keep your Tom Cruises! Denzel Washington is not only one of the great American actors, he’s arguably one of the brightest action stars. His many strengths, as an actor and action hero, are damn near perfectly reflected in his latest, “The Equalizer 2.”

The Equalizer 2
Melissa Leo and Denzel Washington in “The Equalizer 2” | Photo credit: Columbia Pictures

I really enjoyed “The Equalizer.” It may not be one of my favorite films of all time, but it made a solid impact on my list of favorite action movies. “Equalizer 2” absolutely falls in step with its predecessor and brings some badass action without sacrificing quality filmmaking.

In this exciting sequel to “The Equalizer” (based off the 80s action series by the same name), Robert McCall (Washington) is still dishing out his unyielding justice. Sticking up for those in need. Cracking some skulls and making the world a better place, one downed baddie at a time. But, what happens when the bad guys get too close to home and threaten those that McCall cares about the most?

Suspenseful.

The film stars Denzel Washington as Robert McCall, alongside Pedro Pascal and with Melissa Leo and Bill Pullman reprising their roles from the first film. Antoine Fuqua returns as director and we’re off to the races!

Action often gets dismissed as a cheap genre. This dismissal isn’t exactly unwarranted, as a lot of action films are silly, cheap, and offer no merit other than blowing massive wads of cash on blowing things up. “Equalizer 2” is doing it right. Instead of improbable, “Equalizer 2” goes for inventive. The spectacle of this film stems more from impressive fight choreography than it does explosions. The film has great pacing and some lightly injected humor that keeps “Equalizer 2” fun but grounded.

The Equalizer 2
Denzel Washington in “The Equalizer 2” | Photo credit: Columbia Pictures

There’s a very fine line between me, as a viewer, saying “Oh, that’s clever” and “Well, that’s stupid.” Good on “Equalizer 2” for serving larger than life action without the cringe factor present in other recent action films. A particular area of praise for “Equalizer 2” is the presence of some damn good kills and badassery with a capital B-A-D-A-S-S. I love how much I’m rooting for a character that is so brutal. I love the way McCall can take a m***erf***er down.

Just because you’re making an action movie doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice good writing, quality filmmaking, and sincere performances. (Seeing a theme in this review yet?) Under all that actiony goodness, is a good story. I love good dialogue. I love good writing. I love the emotional depth. It would be an utter waste of Denzel Washington’s considerable talent to reduce his character to grunts and miss out on the deeper motivations. Denzel Washington is bringing out a damn fine performance and we, the audience, are buying into the lessons he’s selling. “Equalizer 2” is giving this morally complex character of McCall something to do and I’m here for it.

In terms of negatives, it’s difficult to pin down. There’s nothing really wrong with “Equalizer 2,” it just isn’t remarkable. Enjoyable? Entertaining? Fun? Oh yes. But not likely something I will revisit, myself.

That being said, I can readily recommend “Equalizer 2” to action lovers and Denzel fans alike. 

Get out and see it! “Equalizer 2” is in theaters July 20!

Featured image credit: Columbia Pictures

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