Denzel makes doing the right thing great

It’s no secret that the Movie Man loves Denzel Washington. With Tom Hanks, they comprise our two greatest actors.
Unlike Hanks, there’s something unusual about Equalizer 2 that makes Washington different – in fact, it makes him quite rare.

 

 

About the film
For the first time, Washington has made a sequel.
Of course, usually when a movie is a hit – and the original Equalizer was (2014, Movie Man No. 1107, 7) – a sequel follows.
And that’s not a bad thing, sometimes. Up next week is another Mission: Impossible, and they are usually pretty good movies.
To say sequels are prevalent is a major understatement, of course.
Last week, eight of the top 10 movies had predecessors; that has only occurred once before and that was two weeks ago.
The most recent top 10:
10. Sorry to Bother You
9. Unfriended: Dark Web
8. The First Purge
7. Skyscraper
6. Jurassic Park: Fallen World (MM #1312, 6)
5. Incredibles 2 (MM #1311, 5)
4. Ant-Man and the Wasp (MM #1314, 7)
3. Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation (MM #1315, 4)
2. Mamma Mia 2
1. Equalizer 2
Only Nos. 10 and 1 are not sequels.
Washington is not the only major actor who has not been in a sequel.
Others include Meryl Streep, Leonardo DiCarpio, Russell Crowe, Daniel Day-Lewis (who never will be if he keeps his vow to quit acting), and Jodie Foster.
Another actor, Alec Baldwin, spends one more week on this elite list before he shows up reprising a character in next week’s Mission: Impossible.
It’s possible we’ll get to see Washington’s Robert (Equalizer) McCall again since the second movie has done substantial business.

The plot (spoiler)
McCall (Washington) leads a quiet life in a small apartment building. He supplements his life as a Lyft driver. But he still takes justice in his own hands when he sees wrong-doing.
Washington hunts down a man in Turkey who has stolen a child. And Washington deals out some serious whuppin’s to some rich punks who denigrate a woman as well as a gang of drug punks who threaten to derail a talented young man Washington is semi-mentoring.
But he cranks up the Equalizing when one of his best friends, Susan (Melissa Leo), gets killed overseas while investigating a brutal double murder.
From afar, Washington begins digging into the matter and shocks his former partner, York (Pedro Pascal) who thinks Washington’s dead, and enlists York’s help to gather more intel.
Eventually, Washington solves the mystery – but the bad guys know he knows who did what.
Everything comes down to a wild 4-against-1 battle during a hurricane.

What works
Washington is wonderful as usual. Scenes of him looking pensive and pondering really work as director Antoine Fuqua lets the camera ease in, ever closer.
In the violent scenes – which are spaced out but very brutal – Washington is believable as someone who could take down numerous guys at once.
Leo and Pascal are strong, too.
It was a surprise to see Orson Bean as an aging man who has tried for years to see his missing sister; his final scene has some clout.
So does a shot of what a graffiti-filled wall is turned into.
The leisurely way Fuqua directs the movie fits, even if two-plus hours is too long.

Best scene
The opening sequence is superior. Dressed as a holy man, Washington plays some verbal cat and mouse with a man on a train who has taken a child.
Washington gives the guy a chance to do the right thing but, of course, he does not.
He should have.

What doesn’t work
There’s something lacking here that was found more frequently in the first movie.
There’s always the question of how in the world Washington is never discovered with the trail of bodies he leaves everywhere.
And, until the end, he goes without a scratch despite a zillion fights.
While Bean’s side story works, the one with Washington helping an art student is weaker.
The Movie Man docked the movie a point for the extended finale in the hurricane. It goes on forever and the payoff isn’t worth the wait.

The rating
There is some very icky violence here. The foreign double murder is quite explicit and, just as wince-inducing is what Washington does to a rich punk’s fingers. (Hint: “Do you like Star Trek?” The guy’s hand will not live long nor prosper.)
There is a boatload of cussing that, with the gore and violence, merits the R.

Summing up
It probably says something about these times on the planet where we root for bad guys to get theirs in ghoulish fashion.
Washington is special; he’s been nominated for a whopping nine Best Actor/Supporting Actor Oscars and has won twice.

Next up
M:I – Fallout.