Friday, July 20, 2018

Second 'Equalizer' uses same violent blueprint to emerge a bit better for it

Though it produces a somewhat more exciting result, "The Equalizer 2" certainly doesn't work very hard to get there.

Denzel sits in waiting to equalize the odds -- and then some.
I mean, the 2014 original featured ever-ultra cool Denzel Washington as the '80s TV-show-inspired Robert McCall. He was newly retired and working in a big-box store. Oh, by the way, his hobbies included trying to save a teen-age hooker from the streets, helping a chubby co-worker pass his exam to become a cop and, ultimately and most importantly, giving no quarter while taking no spit from way too many ruthless Russian mobsters.

In this latest and, perhaps, even more gratuitously violent incarnation, McCall has similar intentions. He is now a Lyft driver, attempting to rescue a talented teen artist ("Moonlight" youngster Ashton Sanders) from becoming a gangsta on even meaner streets, helping a Jewish codger (former talk- and quiz-show legend Orson Bean) recover a few very meaningful moments stolen during his Holocaust-heavy past and, finally, battling tooth and nail with bad guys who, well, you can try to spot them for yourselves. (It says here that you will.)

The former CIA operative (or something like that), opens the proceedings disguised as a devout Muslim in another sidebar thread that serves no purpose except to re-introduce his ongoing bad-assing on some leftover Russians. (Or, are they Turks?)

The main plot finally reveals itself with the appearance of always-steady Melissa Leo, again playing McCall's mentor in the government-backed business of black ops. A brutal and alleged murder/suicide occurs in Brussels, from which Leo's world-class investigator, who had been sent the to scour for clues, never returns.

The whole shebang is once again directed by the action-competent Antoine Fuqua, who helmed three other movies starring Washington, including "Training Day," for which his star earned his only Best Actor Oscar.

We've already mentioned that "Equalizer 2" offers more of the same, with its main attraction still giving his all while looking as if every vigilante move comes so very, very easily. That likely will be good enough for loyal Denzel fans of all ages. So, doesn't that mean everybody?

Rated "R": strong bloody violence and language throughout, including some sexual references; 2:09; $ $ $ out of $5

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