*. It was worth a shot. I didn’t really care for The Equalizer, but then I didn’t like John Wick and I thought John Wick: Chapter 2 was a lot of fun. And since Robert McCall is John Wick in almost all but name, why not?
*. Well, it didn’t work out. The Equalizer 2 isn’t just garbage, it’s one of the dullest action movies I’ve seen in years.
*. Here’s the set-up: Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) is the semi-retired black-ops specialist who is now a Lyft driver in Boston but who also goes around helping people in need. Sort of like a one-man A-Team. He helps a woman whose thuggish husband has kidnapped her daughter. He helps a girl who has been drugged and raped by a bunch of spoiled bros at a party. He helps an old Jewish man (camp survivor, naturally) who wants to reunite with his long-lost sister. He helps a troubled black teen who is in danger of being sucked into the gangster life. McCall is the embodiment of perfect justice: someone you can count on to be there to make things right.
*. That’s not much of a movie, however. We need more. And so his former boss Susan, who still works for the Agency, drops in to tell McCall that she’s the only friend he’s got. We sit back and say, “Marked for death.”
*. Susan is murdered and McCall now has to avenge her murder. That’s the plot. Here are a couple of things, just off the top, that are wrong with it. (1) McCall finds out about Susan’s death 45 minutes into the movie. That’s when things get started! Please. (2) We never really find out why Susan gets killed or who is behind it. There are a bunch of killers in the Agency who have gone over to the dark side and it may be that Susan was going to blow their cover in some way, but it’s never explained exactly what it is they’re up to or who they work for. They’re just introduced into the plot to kill Susan so that Robert can then kill them.
*. You would think given how slow the movie develops that there’d be a little more in the way of plot going on, but it really is that simple. Take the scene where McCall confronts his old friend Dave, who works for the Agency but who is now the leader of the bad guys (a “twist” we see coming as soon as this character is introduced). We’ve heard all of this before, about these specialists who have been trained to kill but then disposed of when America no longer had any enemies (I’m not sure when exactly that was). Dave, and people like him, go from being an asset to an afterthought. Like I say, we’ve heard all of this many, many times before, but never at such length. The scene between McCall and Dave plays out for what feels like forever, and it doesn’t provide any essential information. We never find out anything about Dave and his operation. He’s just an asset who has gone rogue and who is now doing rogue things.
*. What follows are action sequences which are nothing special. Definitely sub-John Wick. The final battle also doesn’t make much sense. The team of specialists go into a deserted town where they proceed to show no grasp of basic tactics whatsoever. Dave, as the leader, climbs up a tower where he is of no use at all seeing anything as there is a hurricane blowing and this is, you know, a town, and most of the time people are in or behind buildings. As his team gets picked off one by one they keep screaming “Eyes! I need eyes!” But what assistance can Dave provide them? He doesn’t have x-ray vision.
*. By the way, you know you’re in trouble when you have to add a hurricane to the mix to make the final shootout come to life. Because otherwise this would just be a very slow and uninteresting version of the end of High Plains Drifter. This way it’s a slow and uninteresting version of High Plains Drifter with wind and rain and crashing waves.
*. Guess what? McCall kills all the bad guys and the black kid goes off to art school and the old Jewish guy is reunited with his sister. This crap drags on for two full hours. I can’t be sure if they were even trying to make a good movie, or if they just wanted to make a movie they could stick the franchise label on. Either way, let’s hope it ends here.