Senior vigilante citizen
Denzel Washington (left) as the ‘transport driver’ Robert McCall protects the troubled Miles Whittaker played by Ashton Sanders

Senior vigilante citizen

Philip Cu Unjieng (The Philippine Star) - September 1, 2018 - 12:00am

Film review: The Equalizer 2

It’s interesting to note that when the first Equalizer came out in 2014, Denzel Washington, born in 1954, was already 60 years of age — a senior citizen starring in an action film. While it’s a route the likes of Liam Neeson and even Sean Penn have taken, this sudden switch to the action genre when hitting a ripe old age is not a guaranteed success (Sean didn’t make the cut); but Washington gracefully made the transition with the first Equalizer which grossed over $192M worldwide. And with several global markets still untapped, Equalizer 2 is tipping past $142M worldwide as of last weekend.

Washington can be thankful he has director Antoine Fuqua in his corner, as this is his fourth film with Fuqua, after Training Day, The Magnificent Seven and the first Equalizer. As he showed in Training Day, Fuqua knows how to blend human drama and emotion with hard-hitting, visceral action. Melissa Leo and Bill Pullman are back as well, Leo playing Susan Plummer, an old associate and friend of Robert McCall (Washington). And as in the first film, we find McCall getting through life and retirement, this time out, working as a Lyft driver (think of an Uber or Grab operating in Boston).

After an action-packed prologue set in a train in Turkey, we’re shown how McCall’s work as a driver puts him into contact with various people with whom he either establishes a guarded friendship with, or he reaches out to them when they’re in obvious distress. It’s this vigilante, “equalizing” business that makes him such a godsend for several individuals. And it’s this humanizing aspect that spells the difference in this McCall — quite different from the for-hire character in the ’80s TV series upon which this film franchise is loosely based. This first half firmly establishes McCall as an individual we can admire, and hope to find on our side — whether it’s a physically assaulted law intern, an old man looking for his long-lost sister and reclaiming a painting, or a young African-American inner city artist.

It’s when Plummer (Leo) is unfortunately enmeshed in a sticky situation that erupts in Brussels that the film follows textbook action film, and we’re left at the mercy of Fuqua to provide the tension and physical drama. This he efficiently manages to create, and that the finale happens on a storm-tossed island town cut off from the mainland is a stroke of genius, as the poor visibility and extremely bad weather only heighten the confusion and drama.

I really don’t know if there’s an Equalizer 3 in the works or whether we’ll have to wait four years, and face a 68-year-old Denzel; but if Equalizer 2 is any indication, there’s still a lot of life left in Robert McCall, and Washington ably fills the shoes. The surprise of the first film may no longer be there, but this first-ever sequel film for the Hollywood star  manages to deliver without any senior citizen discount.

(The Equalizer 2 is now showing in cinemas.)

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