The Equalizer 2... I loved the first Equalizer movie, it's one of the movies my wife and I have watched many, many times. We were really looking forward to this installment which, as it turns out is a disappointment. She's much easier on movies than I am, so if I say "it wasn't that great" you can safely assume the right or possibly even average person would really like it, if she says "it's really not that great" then it probably really is lacking something that people with less eccentric tastes for entertainment would normally be perfectly content with.
Without dropping major spoilers everywhere, this sequel sees a now slightly older and more comfortable in his vigilantism, Robert McCall still doling out justice to the needy. He's moved from working in retail hardware stores to driving for Lyft, however. I guess Home Depot didn't want to pony up to be in a movie where their products are used to murder people by a deranged employee, Lyft as we all know, will hire anyone. So, our protagonist toils around the city, righting wrongs with reckless abandon and violence, all while living in the hood and still finding the time to sling wisdom to his local youths. It's all very bland and boring until the forgettable lady from the first movie is killed.
You've seen that much in the previews, I'm just verifying there really isn't much worth talking about to this point. There are two "fight scenes" on the way here, they're not on par with anything from the first movie; more on that in a minute. In The Equalizer, violence was largely contained to locations and situations that allowed you to suspend a certain amount of your common sense and think "I can see that, why would a bunch of Russian mobsters go to the police?" and “Well, maybe no one in a noisy restaurant would hear those guys being abrasively dismantled through those thick wooden walls?” In this one, he lays an obscene amount (obscene, not unwarranted) of cartoon violence on some super-wealthy frat-boy types at one point, before a very public series of murders on a train, in a foreign country, in front of a service worker, over a very public custody dispute, then another in his work vehicle that also includes a significant amount of very public property damage... But that's okay, in the world of The Equalizer 2, apparently setting your car on fire erases all traces of your identity. We play by Grand Theft Auto rules around here, beat it, nerd.
While you can say "He sure did make a public mess at the end of the first one!" It's different, he saved everyone's life, they would definitely be inclined to support him and keep his secrets. In this one, you're talking a lot of very public acts on or in front of average (even if some are bad) citizens. It's all much harder to take in as simple entertainment because it's so over the top and out there. You can buy Stallone in COBRA because he's a "tough as nails cop who doesn't play by the rules" and he beats up a bunch of bad guys; in this one a “Denzel, trying to stay off the radar” anatomically obliterates 5 wealthy stock brokers in a multimillion dollar apartment, while simply walking in and out by the doorman.
Yeah, they deserved it, no you're still going to jail after the SWAT team hunts you down. Nutjob.
All that aside, the general gist of The Equalizer 2 however, is that this time McCall is going up against people equally as skilled as him; in fact, people he has worked with. The final battle is incredibly lackluster in spite of that thrilling suggestion. These other "operators" have all the tactical acumen of a pack of retarded puppies, and McCall effortlessly annihilates the entire squad in less than 15 minutes. None of it being very entertaining or remotely passable even if you’re trying to accept it. By contrast, when "Teddy," the psychopathic ex-KGB agent brings in his paramilitary henchmen in the final act of TE1, you're kind of treated with a pretty stereotypical "Seasoned Warriors V Ninja Assassin" kind of scenario. It is totally unbelievable if you think about it too hard, but it's also well-crafted enough you can accept it in the form of entertainment. In this one, McCall and the new bad guys fight it out in an abandoned town as a monsoon is coming in, despite all the chaos and their training as international hitmen, he doesn't even struggle to murder the entire lot of them. He took fire in the first movie, he got cut, he had bumps and bruises that made a certain amount of sense. Here, I don’t think he even loses balance fighting in a hurricane.
So think about it this way, The Equalizer is a terrific modern day vigilante tale, a man so dangerous Achilles would have bro-hugged him had they met, takes to righting wrongs under the ostensibly correct assumption that targeting crooked cops and members of an organized crime syndicate wouldn't bring much heat on him. After all, these are people who don't want everyone to know what they're doing, right? Totally works. In The Equalizer 2, our Protagonist is a combination of MacGuyver, Deadpool, and Matthew McConaughey's character from Frailty, as he's and untouchable and perfect killing machine that specializes in improvised weaponry, who also has a higher power protecting his identity while he does the work of the divine. They are not the same type of movie, and that is where the disappointment comes in.
If you were a fan of The Equalizer's ability to make nonsense seem plausible while you're regaled with the tales of a very likable and sympathetic hero who suffers from secondary psychopathy yet has a strict code of morals which demands he take it to the bad guys at his own risk and detriment… You won't be equally entertained by The Equalizer 2's tendency towards superhero antics and utterly unbelievable tomfoolery. If 2 were a stand-alone action movie without such a solid predecessor to live up to, it would be a 3 star film. Totally average. Which is what I'm calling it for the sake of objectivity. However, it's not unburdened by a previous film's performance, and it fails to deliver on the same level of, well, everything, as that first movie. It doesn’t even feel like a continuation of the same franchise in all honesty.
I've rambled enough though, final verdict, as a stand-alone action film, it's a solid 3. The first Equalizer is a solid 4.5 for the film's type and genre, comparatively 2 suffers from sequel syndrome and I'd rate a 1.5 by comparison. I watched it twice just to make sure I felt the same on a second viewing, I did.
However, as I say often, don't simply take my word for it, watch it for yourself. If you disagree, try not to be vitriolic about it.