Review: Washington out for revenge in uneven 'Equalizer' sequel

Denzel Washington returns in this sequel that only sometimes delivers the goods

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic
Denzel Washington stars in "The Equalizer 2."

In the spotty, disjointed "The Equalizer 2," Denzel Washington plays Robert McCall, your friendly neighborhood retired black ops agent who will mess you up six ways from Sunday if you cross him. 

Washington plays McCall like a superhero without a cape, an ordinary man doing his part to clean up the Boston streets. (He's a Lyft driver, a job he's picked up since 2014's original "Equalizer," and you better believe he wants his five-star rating.) 

A less-muddled script could have rescued "The Equalizer 2" from the summer blahs, but as it is, we'll just have to accept it for its strengths while acknowledging its flaws.

Chief among those strengths is Washington, who even in violent, R-rated action movie mode is still a commanding presence. There's a scene midway through the film where he shows a bit of his wild card "Training Day" intensity, and it shows what "The Equalizer 2" could have been had it wanted to go that route. 

Instead, director Antoine Fuqua — in his fourth teaming with Washington — keeps the 63-year-old in action-conspiracy-thriller mode. "The Equalizer" wasn't the most memorable action flick on Washington's resume, it was sort of a less potent "Man on Fire," and there's not much you need to remember from the first go-round. Good guy, bad guys, go. 

The script by Richard Wenk throws in several supplemental storylines that bog things down, one of which involves an elderly man (Orson Bean) looking for his long-lost sister. Huh? "The Equalizer 2" works when Fuqua lets it rip; he stages a daring fight sequence inside a speeding car and sets his climax against a raging Nor'easter. Forget the side stories, this "Equalizer" is best when it's settling a score.

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'The Equalizer 2'


Rated R for brutal violence throughout, language, and some drug content  

Running time: 121 minutes