The Equalizer 2 is a sequel to the 2014 movie, The Equalizer. Like Mission Impossible it is also based on an old TV series. Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) returns as the former Marine and ex-DIA agent who is also aone-man army. Washington's character helps the seemingly helpless and is a vigilante for justice.Like its predecessor, the title Equalizer is a way for McCall to "equalize" a situation.
The movie is once again directed by Antoine Fuqua and is the fourth collaboration between Fuqua and Washington, aside the first Equalizer, Training Day (2001) and The Magnificent Seven (2016). This movie contains graphic depictions of violence so viewer discretion is advised.
What I was really pleased about concerning this movie is that despite its trailers, the movie is not only tied to one event. You know the event and you know it's coming but it doesn't happen very soon. Thus, the film actually shows that you don't need a woman to be in trouble or die, which is now considered a trope/cliché, for the male protagonist to set forth.
McCall now lives in urban Boston, Massachusetts in an apartment building and is a Lyft driver. In the beginning of the movie, he is in Turkey, doing an assignment to help someone in need. In around 10 seconds he completely annihilates the enemies and then goes and sits in front of the shaky mastermind and says something that becomes the highlight of the movie.
"There are two types of pain in this world. Pain that hurts. Pain that alters. Today, you get to choose." McCall, by the end of the movie, must also deal with such pain and decide how he is going to live with it. As usual, McCall is a compassionate person and an everyman.
As a Lyft driver you see him show care to man who is struggling with alcoholism, a soldier getting transported to Iraq, a man practicing an interview and a girl who get accepted into university. There is also a scene where McCall realizes a young woman has been assaulted and is put into his car. MCall's empathy for the survivor is very engaging as he sets out to equalize the situation in one of the best moments of the movie.
He is very kind to his neighbors as well, when Fatima's (Sakina Jaffrey) garden gets vandalized he decides to help out. That is when we meet Miles Whittaker (Ashton Sanders), a young man and an artist who also lives in the building. Miles is a good kid but as a young Black man he also has his share of demons and real-life troubles. McCall becomes his mentor in a way. The book that is featured heavily in this movie is Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me (2015).
Miles is a lot different from Alina in the first movie, who helped in a way to establish the first plot. In this way, I am glad the movie did not go for stereotypes especially concerning young Black men. The contrast was integral: Alina (Chloë Grace Moretz) was a reluctant prostitute who was being abused in many ways.
Due to her abusers being horrible people, Alina shows that she can read people a bit better even telling McCall that he doesn't look like a "Bob" but a "Robert" because Robert would read as much as he does. Earlier, Miles has no such intuitive prowess. He is intelligent but naïve and innocent, which is shown through how he just wants to make money with his art and also offers to help McCall with Fatima's garden. I am glad they treated Miles Whittaker as an innocent young man who is learning about the world.
McCall is also helping a Jewish Holocaust survivor named Sam Rubinstein (Orson Bean), who wants a painting of his older sister back. Rubinstein states that he and his sister were sent to different concentration camps when they were young and now the painting is one of the only mementos he has of her. McCall is usually deeply involved in the lives of people he interacts with as we saw in the first movie.
He isn't an invasive force but he is a Guardian Angel and a man of the people in all sense of the word. Helping him with information, is Susan Plummer (Melisso Leo), the retired DIA agent who also helped him in the last movie. Her husband, Brian Plummer (Bill Pullman), is also present in the movie. They are the only constant it seems in McCall's life as Susan fondly tells him that she is his only friend. McCall accepts this because Susan has been helping him and she knows him intimately.
Things get messy when Dave York (Pedro Pascal), a DIA agent, and Susan try to investigate why an agent and his wife were killed in Brussels. Susan gets attacked and though she fights back intensely she is killed. McCall must now know who has killed Susan and why. Sources indicated she was going to eventually crack down this case and he is sure this will lead back to the perpetrators.
He reaches out to York as well as they both decide to work together in solving Susan's case. This movie is more heavily involved in McCall's past and present, how they both console and clash with one another. McCall is also more involved with Miles, almost like a foster father, which is different to how he was with Alina. These differences I did appreciate.
Unlike the first movie, I found the antagonist to this one to be unremarkable and uninteresting. Not that he doesn't have things to offer or he acted badly but he isn't as interesting as Teddy from the last movie. I felt he was there because he had to be and I do believe in some ways he is more twisted and deplorable than Teddy.
Whereas it was Teddy's job to be a "cleaner" for his syndicate, this villain seems to just love getting rid of "loose ends." And the way he does it is pretty horrible and calculated. When you see him in his natural environment you are shocked how malicious he can be. McCall's pain is evident when Susan dies and now he must choose if it only hurts him or will he do that which it takes to alter it.
The action sequences are well choreographed. The way McCall assesses a situation and goes in for the kill (many a times, literally) is amazing. He knows how and when to incapacitate someone and he is not someone you want to be in a fight with. The details are stunning from how they show McCall's eye taking in the factors and then going to equalize the situation and him executing all of that.
The last battle sequences were truly an adrenalin rush but also pure thriller. We are always wondering how McCall will handle this situation. The stealth and precision were so good. I was amazed at how intelligently he is able to get people on the same playing field as him to feel helpless or completely stunned.
And as usual, we see McCall in his daily life and habits. A man of simple needs but not merely a simple man. He is erudite, keeps on reading, loves picking up more books to read and just be himself. He is kind, courteous and very perceptive. Unless someone has done something that would put them on his scope there is nothing about him that seems innately menacing. This is something I also liked and I am happy they carried from the first film.
Teddy, the antagonist from the first film, there is something about him that makes your gut tells you he isn't someone you can trust. With McCall you don't feel that, you feel trusted and safe. I love that because McCall is a Black man, and it is refreshing to see men of color shown to be heroes and safe people than the stereotypes of gangsters or someone to fear.
You like being in McCall's presence, as evidenced by both Alina and Miles, you want to talk to him about books and other things in life. McCall has the ability to make you feel like you are old friends. It is not necessarily his training. It's his innate humanity and kindness.
This sequel was a good one. It may not have a great antagonist but the movie is more about McCall and the way he is presented is always interesting to watch because as he empathizes with others we also empathize with him. McCall is a character you love and want to root for till the very end. I recommend the movie.
The writer is a Copy Editor at The Asian Age
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