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New Release Review - THE EQUALIZER 2

the equalizer 2 review
Vigilante Robert McCall investigates the suspicious murder of a friend.







Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Antoine Fuqua

Starring: Denzel Washington, Pedro Pascal, Ashton Sanders, Orson Bean, Bill Pullman, Melissa Leo

the equalizer 2 poster


Save for those which act as direct continuations of their established sagas (Star Trek, Serenity, The Naked Gun), movies based on past TV shows rarely concern themselves with bearing much resemblance to their small screen sources. 21 Jump Street, CHIPS and Baywatch actively parodied their gogglebox originals while Miami Vice, SWAT and The Sweeney gave us gritty modern takes on shows that no longer play as the serious dramas they once served as. Hollywood's motivation for adapting old TV shows isn't to satisfy fans of said shows, but rather to cash in on the nostalgic synapses that might crackle upon recognition of an existing brand.

the equalizer 2 review

It was no surprise then to find that 2014's big screen reboot of The Equalizer bore scant likeness to the 1980s TV show. In the original, Edward Woodward played Robert McCall, a sophisticated Brit with a shady military past who spent his retirement helping out troubled New Yorkers while driving around in a Jaguar, Stewart Copeland's memorable synth theme purring in the background. Director Antoine Fuqua's reboot made McCall a blue collar Bostonian (played by Denzel Washington) who spends his days working at a hardware store and his nights fighting the Russian mafia. He couldn't even dream of owning a Jag.

Fuqua's version of McCall was an amalgam of Matt Damon's secret agent with a troubled history, Jason Bourne, and the sort of aging action men Liam Neeson has become synonymous with in recent years. For the sequel, Daniel Craig's 007 is added to the mix with a pre-credits sequence that finds McCall in the middle of a mission in Turkey and a climactic action sequence borrowed from Skyfall.

the equalizer 2 review

The opening sequence is something of a cheat - a title card tells us McCall is on a train bound for Istanbul, but it could just as easily have been a train from Washington to Boston, which would make a lot more sense with this character. If McCall is now administering his vigilante justice on a global scale, he's obviously being well paid for his services, which makes us immediately ask why he's working as a Lyft driver when he returns to Boston. The producers clearly felt the movie needed a larger sense of scale, but weren't willing to pay for their production to actually travel to any exotic locales, and didn't seem to care whether it made contextual sense or not.

The main plotline of this sequel is as clich├ęd as they come, with McCall investigating the suspicious murder of a friend and old service buddy, and uncovering a wider conspiracy along the way. You can see the plot twist coming from a mile off, thanks to the film casting an actor known for playing villains in the initial role of an ally to McCall.

the equalizer 2 review

More compelling are two minor subplots, which bear more relation to the original show than anything in the first film. One sees McCall help out a Holocaust survivor (Orson Bean) who is determined to obtain a painting he believes was created by his sister. The other has McCall act as a mentor to a young African-American artist (Ashton Sanders) who has fallen in with a local street gang.

Elsewhere, McCall administers violent justice to a group of entitled young assholes (who put the 'bro' in brokers) responsible for the gang rape of an intern. Maybe I'm getting old, but there's something endearing about watching a quiet-spoken, bookish older gent dishing out wisdom and beatings to those who could use a dose of either. Had The Equalizer 2 focussed on such small scale human dramas, rather than rehashing the plot of every other action movie, it would have been a far more satisfying watch. Oh, and Stewart Copeland's theme wouldn't have gone amiss either.

The Equalizer 2 is in UK/ROI cinemas August 17th.




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