Back in 2014 Denzel Washington starred in a remake/reworking of The Equalizer TV show starring Edward Woodward which ran from 1985 through 1989. Here’s a bit of the TV show, for those unfamiliar with it…
I was a fan of the original TV series which was basically a clever variation on James Bond… had the venerable agent grown older and retired to New York and decided to continue helping people who needed his “unique” skills.
When the Denzel Washington film came out, I reviewed it (you can read my review of it here) and I thought it was an “ok” film. Not terrible by any stretch of the imagination but neither did I feel it was particularly memorable.
I also questioned why the film was made as a remake of that particular show. To wit: Why take away the one thing that made the TV show so unique, the idea of an elderly James Bond type in New York, and get rid of that completely by having Denzel Washington play an agent who others thought was dead but, through the course of this original movie, ends up where the Edward Woodward show began, with him offering his “unique” services to those in need. Only he wasn’t a “fish out of water” James Bond in a New York milieu.
When The Equalizer 2, the sequel to this film, was released in 2018, I didn’t really care to see it. Again, I didn’t hate the original movie but I was leery of the changes made to the original concept and didn’t feel particularly compelled to go watch the sequel.
A couple years passed and the film showed up on a cable channel and, for the heck of it, I DVRed it. It sat there for a few months and yesterday, for the heck of it, I decided to give it a try.
Though my expectations were low, I found the opening hour or so of the film quite interesting: It took its time to establish the various characters and their situation(s), drawing me as a viewer in to the world of Robert McCall (Denzel Washington, natch) and the machinations that ultimately lead to him having to deal with a group of killers… a group of which he was once a part of.
I don’t want to get into SPOILERS and I won’t, but it was refreshing to see this opening and to see director Antoine Fuqua, who directed the original film, take his time showing us the various characters who play a role in the story to come.
However, as good as it was in the early going, it felt like this went on a little longer than it should have. Still, once the pieces were set and the action really started, it was interesting and tense, even if I would also say it wasn’t necessarily spectacular.
The best part of the film, IMHO, was the way it presented the idea of a hurricane -yes, the weather system- slowly coming in, scene by scene. I really like the way that the weather deteriorates subtly as the movie goes along, symbolically showing the fury of McCall building. Once we reach the climax, the hurricane -and McCall’s fury- is quite literally all around us. We see McCall at his deadliest against the bad guys as the full force of the hurricane buffets them.
The bad guys, like in the original film, are unfortunately once again not all that well defined. I practically moaned when their leader explained his evil actions with the cliched “we worked for X so and so number of years and then they just put us out to pasture… we’re not going to let them!”
Despite this I enjoyed this movie. In fact, I’d say it was far better than the original Equalizer. While it may not be the best action/adventure film evah, its kinda nice to see one with a lot of thought behind its story and structure and a not insignificant amount of heart.
While The Equalizer 2 does not reinvent the wheel and I’m still not sold on the idea of re-doing a TV show while removing almost everything that made it unique, if you’ve got a free evening with nothing much to do, spending a bit of time with The Equalizer 2 is far from the worst thing you could do.