‘Blu-ray or Bust’
THE EQUALIZER 2 (2018, R, 121 minutes, FUQUA FILMS/COLUMBIA PICTURES)
I love me some Denzel Washington.
The sixty-four-year-old Oscar winner does not shy away from many roles; we’ve seen him as a proud infantryman in GLORY, a defiant leader in MALCOLM X, and a paralyzed ex-detective in THE BONE COLLECTOR. His face is iconic, and many of his roles are, too. Unfortunately, his second turn as ex-military man turned anonymous vigilante Robert McCall isn’t one of those characters that resonates quite as much.
That isn’t to say his performance is bad—they never are. But director Anton Fuqua takes this sequel into territory the first film never ventured into: TV land. There are a few subplots in this one that feel ripped straight from an episodic drama on the little screen. There is enough of it to muddle the goings on with the main plot, which involves a rogue military unit looking to cover up some illegal shenanigans (please, stop me if you haven’t heard THAT particular plot before…). So much so that at times, I was hoping for a commercial break involving the Lifecall Button or a preview for the next episode of “Murder, She Wrote”.
This wouldn’t be a horrible device if it was something that had been explored the first time around—or, at least, not so heavily here. There is much to this film that feels too familiar, too rehashed, for any of it to feel fresh. The entire thing could have all been set in the seventies, and the difference in time periods would not have made a single difference.
However… Mr. Fuqua and company pull this all off so confidently that none of it comes across as mistakes, rather as an homage to the original television show. They create that sense of familiarity and never let up on; partly to make you feel comfortable with Mr. McCall’s choices and his peculiarities, and also to that fans of the decades-old television show would not feel that their character had gone to waste. Mr. Washington does a fine job as always, bringing a rough compassion to a man that has little time for niceties. His McCall is a broken man being held together by old, fraying tape, one that sees mostly badness in the world even while he tries to make it a better place to live and grow up in.
Cinematographer Oliver Wood (STEP BROTHERS, THE BOURNE SUPREMACY) brings the city streets to life as a gritty backdrop to the onscreen action, and it complements the character well. He even handles the action during a hurricane finale with a careful eye, and it brings tension to the action that might have been missing in less confident hands. The score by Harry Gregson-Williams (SHREK, THE MARTIAN) also lends to the feel of the film, grounding it when necessary, tugging on the heart strings at other times.
The Blu-ray release is chockful of special features—almost an hour’s worth. The best ones are the breakdowns of some of the action sequences, and the interview with Mr. Washington as he shares his love of the character he is portraying.
This could be the last entry in this particular series, however; Mr. Fuqua recently wrapped production on two documentaries, and is producing a biography called THE MAN WHO MADE IT SNOW. And Mr. Washington? He can do whatever he wants; talent of his caliber never really sleeps, and he can afford to be picky about his projects. Let’s just hope the next director he works with is pickier with the script.
Film Grade: B
Special Features: B
Blu-ray Necessary: Recommended
-- T.S. Kummelman