In his 40-year acting career, Denzel Washington has never made a sequel to any of his prior movies, but there was something special about playing a lethally skilled ex-CIA agent that made the two-time Oscar-winning actor sign up for a sequel. “The excitement for me comes when I do something new,” says Washington. “When it came to this screenplay, the new territory was the relationship with Melissa Leo’s character, and the relationship with the young boy played by Ashton Sanders. This film is more of a personal journey for McCall because it is about what happens to people that he’s allowed into his life. He was a man who wasn’t going to allow anyone in his life, and now, when he opens up to a couple people, it’s not good.”
In EQ2, he returns as Robert McCall, a soft spoken, kindly old man who’s always ready to serve justice to those who deserve it. This time around, he’s moved on from selling home improvement goods to being a Lyft driver, which is pretty convenient as he gets to eavesdrop on his passenger’s conversations. In a sequel reminiscent of the classic film “Taxi Driver,” he tells a soldier who is off to Iraq for his first tour of duty that he would be here to pick him up when he returns. He rescues an abused young girl who is thrown into his cab and is the regular sir Galahad to an old age pensioner he picks up each day for his doctor appointments. He’s also moved to an apartment complex right in the heart of Boston, hangs out with his neighbors, and forges a paternal relationship with a teenager named Miles (Ashton Sanders), who lives with his single mother in the same complex. Despite those new few tidbits, he’s still a man of silent ritual who enjoys drinking tea and reading classics like Richard Wright’s “Native Son” and Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “Between the World and Me,” which is the first book we see him reading in the first scene as he travels to Turkey to rescue a young girl kidnapped from her American mother.
A savior within the community, the obsessive compulsive McCall still only resorts to violence when it’s the last option and it certainly becomes a necessity when someone very close to him is killed and he discovers her highly trained assassins are some of his former cohorts. Directed by Antoine Fuqua, who re-teams with Washington for a fourth time following their successful collaborations on “Training Day,” “The Magnificent Seven,” and the first “Equalizer” film, it’s a modern day superhero movie that’s solid and well-crafted and offers a few grim laughs between McCall’s gory fisticuffs.
“You picked the wrong door to knock on pops!” McCall is told in one scene just before he sets his watch and rains down a ferocious retribution on the unassuming culprit. There’s thrill and momentum to this sequel which follows a similar structure to the first, but sprinkles in a few sidebar pieces which gives it an excessively sentimental feel. It’s formulaic but still certainly just as entertaining as the first film and no matter the movie, people will always show up to see a Denzel drama especially one where he delivers justice.
“The Equalizer 2″ releases in theaters nationwide on July 20
Samantha Ofole-Prince is a Los Angeles based journalist and movie critic who covers industry-specific news/Photos courtesy of Sony Pictures Entertainment and Eric Charbonneau