The first time collaboration of director, Antoine Fuqua, and actor, Denzel Washington, in 2001's Training Day was something magical. It earned Washington an Academy Award for Best Actor and is still to this day a fan favorite of the actor. When the two reunited for 2014's The Equalizer it was another thrilling, action ride. The Equalizer doesn't carry the same impact as Training Day but it's still nonetheless a great action packed film. It just seems like every time Washington & Fuqua get together they loose a bit of charm from the Training Day days.
Enter their third collaboration, The Equalizer II. The film marks a first for both Fuqua and Washington - it's the first time either party has returned for a sequel. As a sequel to its' 2014 predecessor, it does an incredible job of standing on its' own. Sometimes sequel fall into this slump to either live up to the first one, be bigger or are part of a larger story arc. The adventures of Robert McCall continuing in this second chapter does do a decent job to stand well on its' own.
Just because it does do a nice job standing on its' own, doesn't make it any well near a decent film. The film opens up like a drunk individual stumbling home and shuffling through blurred vision to try and find a key. The narrative of the opening act at its' core is Washington's McCall adjusting to life after the events of the first film and Melissa Leo's "Susan Plummer". You get little glimpses of the over arching story sprinkled within but not enough to save the narrative's misdirection.
As the film slowly finds its' voice, we are meant with very definitive act closings. Just about every time they are moving from one act to the other, it feels forced and every evident. Whether it's black screen or the introduction of another character. It doesn't flow naturally between the story lines like most films. Even with all of its' pacing issues, the film does overstay its' welcome by 10-15 minutes. Some of that in part is due to Ashton Sanders' "Miles" & Bill Pullman's "Brian Plummer". Both characters had nothing more to the film than possibly give the audience something to relate to.
While this film is far from a perfect film, it does feature a beautiful score by Harry Gregson-Williams. Willaims knows how to add sorrow and intensity in all the right moments in the screen. When matched with Washington's performance, it's a match made in Heaven. With music being a major highlight for the film, the fight choreography in this film is another bragging point. As much of a mess as it is, the first act does ironically carry one of the best fight sequences in the film. Marked only by the climax of the film as well.
Overall, The Equalizer II is a less charming sequel than its' predecessor. While yes it is led with a decent performance by Washington, solid fight choreography and a soundtrack that spans the emotional spectrum. It's almost dead on arrival due to bad narrative, useless characters and poor direction.
FINAL SCORE: 2.5/5
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