I have to say that I remember really enjoying the Equalizer (2014) back when I saw it not that I didn’t complain but it was fun to see Denzel play an action hero. I have a major weakness for anti-heroes and Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) fit the bill. He was superhuman but without the cape and bats. He was Batman on steroids and I loved that he reminded me of my dad. McCall was an avenging angel taking revenge on men brutalizing a young white woman.
Now McCall was far from perfect since the punishment didn’t always fit the crime. Robbing a Home Depot doesn’t deserve the death penalty but it was nice to see a black man as the vigilante instead of the bad guy who gets comeuppence of a punishment at the end of a gun or baseball bat or whatever he could reach. Antoine Fuqua took the anti-hero action movie trope and bent it to his will from the slow walk away, explosions, carefully choreographed action scenes and great one liners.
But it’s four years later and I expected it to be bigger, badder and more equalizer. Instead it was a action spy movie with a super slow buildup that had a few surprises. It kept my attention but I didn’t walk out of the theatre thinking I’d love to see this again. I knew from the first smirk who was behind the murder of McCall’s BFF (et to Brutus) from the many commercials that gave away WAY too much!
It felt like everyone wanted some extra money in the bank and decided a sequel was a great idea but decided to half ass it with a meandering script and a ‘you can’t go home again’ backstory to ‘explain’. Also why does he pretty much only rescue white women from sexual violence? Black women get raped too and I gave the ‘save a white girl’ trope in the first movie but they just had to go back again and make a white woman the innocent victim who he HAS to play the knight in shining armor? They could have easily cast a black woman or a woman of color in the role and it would have been an interesting aside since a black woman accusing white men of rape being believe that they would rape her would have been an interesting storyline. I mean he’s a Lyft driver who mostly picks up non-POC I can say as one black woman all I use are ride share apps since cabs never want to pick me up. The Holocaust survivor’s (Orson Bean) fight for a family painting with a twist ending was so out of place I mean like startling out of place from the friendship to how he helped. Urghh did I mention that he saved TWO white girls? One (Rhys Olivia Cote) was from her ‘evil’ Turkish father (Adam Karst) gotta love the casual anti-Islamaphobia and the white worship that of COURSE he’d marry a white blond woman (Tamara Hickey) than get mad and abduct the child but yahoo Independent Bookshop???
Washington is a great actor surrounded by a cast that turn in a solid if by the numbers performance but I expected more. I wanted him to ‘save a black girl/woman’. I would have really liked more of an exploration of his life in the apt building and the friends (Sakina Jeffrey) he made. I really didn’t care for the gangbanger story (Ashton Sanders) since I’ve seen that before and done much better. Oh and that apt in NYC was HUGE more money than a Lyft driver could afford especially with the upgrades! The storm scene was really hard to see so it was kind of muddled. I wish they had spent a little money to make it look cleaner and closed up on his hand movements. Plus more hand to hand combat if you’re a badass former spy I expect you to fight better but I guess he’s getting old .
Now I don’t want to say that the movie didn’t have a few good quips and startling moments but not enough to justify the end that I would have liked to have more of a punch. Instead the film ends suddenly like running into a brick wall that you didn’t expect on a foggy day. It would have been better to avoid the face splat and spending my money to support a black lead actor and director who couldn’t be bothered to cast a black woman in a substantial role. McCall saved three white women, saved a white man, rescued a black kid and revenged the death of another white woman but I guess black women are again invisible to anti-hero McCall and Antoine Fuqua.
Watching the film I can’t help but wonder if they think this will be a Mission Impossible or Jason Bourne action series where they can churn out sequels or even pass off to a new hot actor. Well bless their hearts cause this is the last Equalizer movie ticket I’ll buy and will look side eye at Antoine AND Denzel’s next movie.
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Writer: Richard Wenk
Starring: Denzel Washington, Pedro Pascal, Ashton Sanders, Orson Bean, Melissa Leo, Bill Pullman
Release Date: July 20, 2018