Updated: Jul 8, 2019
By Derek May
YIN: Equalizer 2
Robert McCall is back, and the gloves are officially off.
2014’s reboot of the 80’s TV series saw Denzel Washington’s Robert McCall struggle against his vocation, reluctant to fully embrace his nature. By the end of that film, all indecision had been wiped clean by blood, and McCall, having finally come to terms with himself, was ready to go out into the world and help who he could. And with this year’s inevitable sequel, McCall is doing just that.
We pick up a few years into his new life in a new town, with McCall finding those in need by chauffeuring them around as a Lyft driver. We see no less than four completely separate examples of his unique brand of altruism, giving the film a broader scope, but also a more episodic feel. And while each story is interesting in and of itself, they are also completely separate from the larger whole, giving the film a must more disjointed feel than the original.
Setting those mini-episodes aside, the main storyline, once it’s allowed to fully breathe, pulls McCall out of the darkness of his shrouded past and into the light of day. In the first film, we got hints of McCall’s background—obviously military-trained, some sort of special ops. But the veil remained, giving him a mysterious aura that served both that story and the character well. Our only real glimpse behind that curtain came through a visit to his friends Susan and Brian Plummer (Melissa Leo and Bill Pullman). It was obvious McCall and Susan had a working history, and she became one of his few confidants and served a critical function in bringing McCall out of his shell. And as such, Susan once again serves as our entry point, with her unfortunate murder acting as the catalyst that drives McCall to seek his own sense of justice, releasing the skeletons of his past in the process.
From this point, the plot does its best to appear intricate, but the “twist” is fairly obvious. There’s a bit of fancy slight-of-hand editing to appear to add weight by cutting between the various storylines and characters, and to a degree it works. But ultimately, the story in and of itself is just not as crisp as the first and feels like the script was just a draft or two off where it needed to be.
That said, the characters really make up the difference. Denzel imbues McCall with that keen intelligent ferocity that only Denzel brings. His interactions with so many other characters provide the impetus for the normally introverted character to explore his different facets, from his noble desire for fairness and decency to his almost savage need to punish. But even more importantly, we get a little more insight into McCall the family man that could have been. Not only still working his way through the 100 books as a testament to his late wife, we also have the chance to explore a little more of what that loss has really meant, and what it’s cost him.