Directed by Antoine Fuqua | Written by Richard Wenk
Denzel and Fuqua have made some great films together. Training Day won Denzel his Oscar. In 2014, they gave us the first Equalizer film and it was a surprise hit to see a former agent with a penchant for timing his fights and pre-calculating every move like a chess player. This was unique because Denzel’s character, Robert McCall, uses everything in his surroundings as weapons. It can be a teapot, a chair, or even bags of flour! With a solid first film to build upon they just needed to have a worthy opponent/villain for McCall to take on.
Here come the spoilers.
Robert McCall (Denzel) is settled into the Massachusetts area. He is a Lfyt driver who helps those passengers he feels have been wronged. In one case, this is a female who has obviously been assaulted. He goes back to the building and delivers some justice to the people who assaulted her. He also helps a mother get her daughter back, and helps an old man reunite with his long lost sister. He even takes on a father type role in a young artist’s life to help him stay away from gangs and violence of the streets. These elements are nice building blocks to show how he is still utilizing his skills to help those in need. He meets his old friend, Susan Plummer, who is still ‘not’ working for the DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency). She visits him before being called out to Brussels to investigate a murder/suicide of a former DIA operative who worked for McCall’s former team. While she is out there investigating, she becomes convinced that this was not a suicide. She heads to her hotel room to prepare to fly back to the states when she is assaulted in her room by two men and eventually murdered. Robert decides to investigate who murdered his friend. He approaches his old teammate, Agent Dave York, to work with him to find who had her killed.
Agent York actually ends up being the buddy turned bad guy. This is just too cliché. Denzel meets him in his house with his family there. Let there be redemption with Dave. Instead of him being a ‘surprise’ bad guy, let him be a puppet. Let there be some hidden unknown figure pulling strings and turn McCall’s former team into guns for hire. When they are sent to take out McCall they are reluctant, but following orders as they are all in too deep. McCall tries not to kill anyone and instead, just renders them unconscious. This still has personal stakes as they killed his friend, but McCall is learning forgiveness and redemption (his past is not so clean, either) and he is trying to atone with the young artist kid. He eventually saves his team, but then a second team is sent in to kill them as the hidden real bad guy didn’t trust the team to take out McCall. Some of the team is killed, but we leave Dave and Robert alive to set up a third Equalizer film where we know they are going to hunt down this person pulling the strings.
This film could have been much better had it raised the emotional and personal stakes with his former team being forced to kill him instead of wanting to kill him. Having him show mercy for the ones who killed his friend Susan, would be a huge reaction for Robert as a character. Finally this would set up an epic third film in the Equalizer franchise with him and members of his old team teaming up one more time to render justice not only for Susan, but to free them of whatever trapped them into committing crimes. This would leave the audience wanting more. Resolve some plot lines, but leave the big one unraveled for another film. That would make this film great.
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