The Equalizer 2 (EQ2) sees the return of essentially everyone creatively involved in the original film, even marking the first sequel Denzel Washington has ever done. While many sequels fall victim to being too similar to the original, The Equalizer 2 tries to expand upon the original with a bigger story that offers a broader scope than the first film. Unfortunately, the creative team stumbles along the way, giving audiences a fraction of the fun from the first film. Join us as we take a closer look at the film in our The Equalizer 2 review.
In the first The Equalizer, the story is very contained. Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) is tasked with saving a girl from Russian mobsters. By the end of the action spectacle, the girl is saved and all the Russians are out of the picture for good. It’s a very cut and dry story that has plenty of high tension and climactic moments for audiences to gush about on the way home from the theater.
When it comes to The Equalizer 2, directed by Antoine Fuqua and written by Richard Wenk, they tried to go bigger. Usually, there would be applause when a sequel tries to build on the first film and create something bigger. Washington is still impressive as the calm and collected assassin, and the rest of the cast play their parts better than anything seen in the first film. But in the case of EQ2 there are far too many plot threads, which results in an action film with long bouts of story building that try to link together all the moving parts, but instead, do more to take away from the action and confuse the audience.
The same creative team behind the first movie has come back for the sequel. This means it was likely studio interference to blame for the plot troubles. The film opens with McCall doing what he does best while returning a little girl to her mother. A few of these little missions are thrown into the first half of the film in an attempt to keep the pace up, but they don’t make a lot of sense in the greater scheme of the film, and they only make the long segments of non-action all the more noticeable.
Instead of having to save a single woman from the Russians (like the first film), EQ2 is overstuffed with characters. Throughout the film, McCall saves a little girl, helps a lady of the night, befriends an elderly man looking for his long-lost sister and a painting (don’t ask), becomes a father figure to a neighborhood 20-something, takes on a local gang, avenges his best friend and protects her husband, and deals with former colleagues and the loss of his wife (which happened before the first film even began). If that sounds like a lot to squeeze into a two-hour movie, your assumption would be correct.
There’s just too much going on in EQ2 to make sense of it all. Writer Richard Wenk clearly tried to make the audience care about each and every person McCall encounters, then tie everything together before the end of the film. Instead, there’s a lot of confusion in the first half of the film, trying to figure out who’s important and why. By the time the movie gets to the point, it’s too little too late. Even the climax is a far cry from the epic explosion by the docks and Home Depot shootout from the first film.
The Equalizer 2 tried to be a bigger, better sequel. The tension in these action sequences is high and will occasionally have you on the edge of your seat, but almost everything else about the film falls short when compared to the original. Standing on its own, EQ2 is not a bad film, but the original just does it better. EQ2 provides more action and tension, but you care less about the characters involved, half of the key players simply don’t matter or feel forced into a plot that didn’t need them, and the climax is average at best, despite taking place in the middle of a hurricane. If you enjoyed the first film, there are some fun parts in EQ2, but overall it doesn’t stand up to the 2014 original.
About The Equalizer 2
Synopsis: Robert McCall serves an unflinching justice for the exploited and oppressed, but how far will he go when that is someone he loves?
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Writer: Richard Wenk
Stars: Denzel Washington, Pedro Pascal, Bill Pullman
Runtime: 2 Hours, 1 Minute
Bryan Dawson has been writing professionally since the age of 13. He started his career as a video game writer and has since worked for Random House, Prima Games, DirecTV, IGN, AOL, the British Government, and various other organizations. For GNN, Bryan taps into his passion for movies.