Equalizer 2 (2018)
Critic Consensus: The Equalizer 2 delivers the visceral charge of a standard vigilante thriller, but this reunion of trusted talents ultimately proves a disappointing case study in diminishing returns.
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Critic Reviews for Equalizer 2
Washington is a pleasure to watch on the screen. The two-time Oscar winner is able to tap into his own surplus of moral righteousness even when the script is pulling the carpet out from under him.
Clunky, over-processed cement-mixer cinema, given some consistency by Washington's screen presence...
It's ridiculous, of course. And it's violent. It's also impeccably executed (pun intended), powerfully acted and sincerely acknowledges the value of goodness, virtue and doing the right thing.
This is far more rhythmically assured than the first one, and gains a feel for urban melancholy in the editing and score that nudges close to elegance at times.
Audience Reviews for Equalizer 2
Short of donning a cape in the age of the dominance of superhero movies, Denzel plays a superhero who's power seems to lie in that he can time with a stopwatch how long it takes to whup some ass, which doesn't make sense exactly but does lend itself to some cool ass-whuppings. He's an ex-CIA Special Ops who rides around helping people while disguised as a ordinary, everyday Lyft driver, until somebody kills a friend of his, "and then it gets personal!" Melissa Leo does well here, in a movie where everyone you see onscreen but the hero gets killed.
The "Equalizer 2" doesn't stray far from the formula established is Fuqua and Denzel's first foray, and as such there is entertainingly familiar fun to be found. But the routine is also frustrating considering "The Equalizer 2" does little to elevate itself above what we saw in the first. Solid filmmaking and central performance still apply, but the side characters and central villain are more predictable and less memorable. A competent and harmless disappointment, and the sort of sequel Netflix was made for.
The Equalizer 2 is lucky that the threshold for entertainment is just low enough to cover even middling affairs where Denzel Washington dishes out righteous justice to the cocky criminals and ne'er-do-wells of the world. This is very much a strict formulaic second entry for 2015's original movie, based on the TV series. It's lesser in just about every regard although it returns Washington, director Antoine Fuqua, and writer Richard Wenk. It's hard not to feel like a paycheck venture where everyone went on some autopilot. The plot takes a bit long to get into gear and it's desperately missing the first movie's lead mob investigator to create an enticing game of cat and mouse. I miss the gradual escalation, as Washington's character gets in worse and worse trouble as he moves up the ranks of the Russian mafia. I would actually say Equalizer 2 is a movie that peaks in its first act (my favorite moment was an episodic dishes of violent retribution with a group of arrogant sexual assaulters). There just isn't anything truly memorable here. The action can often feel murky with how it's been photographed, and there is the occasional questionable quirk that would take me out rather than fully engage (baking flour is combustible now?). There is a satisfying storyline where Washington reaches out to an at-risk youth to dissuade him from joining a gang. It has some nicely drawn character moments that feel meaningful, but then it's back to the grind of whatever an Equalizer movie means in the twenty-first century. I enjoyed the first Equalizer as a modern-day Canon action vehicle with some pretty sickly entertaining deaths and taut action/suspense sequences. It was a movie that made its presence felt beyond Washington's cool charisma. With the sequel, all we're left with is Washington's charisma performing the heavy lifting. Nate's Grade: C+
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