The Equalizer 2 movie cast: Denzel Washington, Pedro Pascal, Ashton Sanders, Melissa Leo, Bill Pullman
The Equalizer 2 movie director: Antoine Fuqua
The Equalizer 2 movie rating: 2 stars
Church bells can be heard as, next to a patch of vegetables grown by a local token Muslim (Sakina Jaffrey plodding on, literally, in a thankless role), Denzel Washington’s Robert McCall tries to put a black teen (Sanders) on “the right path”, away from guns and drugs. Michelle Obama smiles from a photo as McCall, the Special Agent-turned-vigilante, dispenses his form of justice while poring over yet more books — this time pointedly making a reference to two of them, both dealing with growing up black in the US (Native Son, Between the World and Me). At yet other times, McCall himself can be caught smiling indulgently at the rear-view mirror of the cab he drives with Lyft (an Uber-like service, given prominent space in the film), at his passengers, particularly one soldier on his way to his first Iraq tour. Should they get into trouble, like one call girl, McCall can be counted on to go back and dish out yet more justice.
A busy life by any standards — not even counting the dizzying travel several times over between Boston, Turkey, Washington, Brussels, and one storm-wrecked town. But especially for a man who is legally dead. However, that didn’t stop McCall in The Equalizer 1, also directed by old collaborator Fuqua, and is far from a deterrent this time. On the contrary, Fuqua packs in so many sub-plots that only a man with as much poise as Washington can even make a pretence of reading stuff like Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time through it.
Sub-plot No. 1) McCall travels to Turkey and, in a train that could be the Orient Express, rescues a child abducted by a Turkish man from his American wife, who happens to be the unsuspecting owner of McCall’s favourite bookstore. Sub-plot No. 2) In Brussels, a family gets wiped out brutally (it is always brutal in Fuqua’s world, and remains so), and the man turns out to be a US ‘asset’. Sub-plot No. 3) McCall develops a relationship of mentor-protege with the black teen, played credibly by Sanders. Sub-plot No. 4) McCall already has a relationship with an aged Holocaust victim looking for his lost sister; the man once makes McCall roll down his cab window to advise him to “always be nice to a person who has access to your toothbrush”, just like that. Sub-plot No. 5) McCall’s old comrades come crashing into his world, through friend Susan (Leo), and later Dave (Pascal), in pleasant and not-so-pleasant ways. Sub-plot No. 6) McCall repeatedly underlines what it is to be a “real man”, even as the film that starts with talk of “paying for one’s sins” veers on to their being “no real sin and virtue” and “no real enemies”. Sub-sub-plot No. 7) McCall in Sherlock mode, imagining himself in a crime scene as the pieces fall into place (this is Washington, so well, it’s better to say they gently slide into place). Meanwhile, the big mystery isn’t as big, or as much a mystery, as the film thinks it is.
We learnt in The Equalizer that McCall has 100 books to read on his list, as those were on his late wife’s bucket list. The wife is mentioned only in passing here, coming into focus more as action shifts bizarrely to an Apocalypse-like encounter in a town hit by storm. But by the time it is all over, the Proust book definitely remains unfinished. You know what that means, of course.