The Equalizer 2 (Antoine Fuqua, 2018) 1½ out of 4 stars.
Director Antoine Fuqua and actor Denzel Washington return to the life of Robert McCall, a mysterious man who dishes out vigilante justice of his own design, in The Equalizer 2, co-starring Pedro Pascal, Ashton Sanders, and Melissa Leo. After having found the perfect balance of living a peaceful life during the day and discreetly helping the oppressed whenever he can, Robert McCall (Washington) is forced to reconsider his priorities when demons from his questionable past resurface and hurt the people he holds most dear. Once and a while Antoine Fuqua injects The Equalizer 2 with brief moments of high octane that are infectious, but Richard Wenk’s weak screenplay is relentless on both Fuqua’s and Washington’s talents, as director and actor, with one clichéd story beat and character arc after another.
The first 15 minutes play as an effective short film of McCall’s day job as a Lyft driver and the diverse strangers who climb in and out of his car every day. With minimal dialogue from Washington and a few creative camera angles done by the film’s director of photography Oliver Wood, we understand the one thing this film’s protagonist truly desires but can never have: a normal life. Emotionally genuine scenes like this prologue are few and far between, and when the film fails to distract us with basic action, it becomes an unmanned vehicle coasting on an all-too-familiar road. All the supporting actors should be credited for committing to material not worthy of their talents. Ashton Sanders and Pedro Pascal play characters who are only defined by the information divulged in their introductions. Wenk proceeds to hit every twist and turn supporting characters like these have experienced for decades.