In the first sequel of his acting career, Denzel Washington returns as Robert McCall in the second film iteration of the ’80s crime television show The Equalizer.

This time around, McCall (once again) attempts to distance himself from his violent past in favour of a normal life, spending his days as a Lyft driver. However, it becomes more and more apparent that McCall simply cannot bring it upon himself to idly sit by while injustices are consistently committed around him, and a crime committed against a close friend forces him to take justice into his own hands one more time.

The Equalizer 2 is the epitome of a mixed bag; there are a handful of well-executed, exciting sequences that are contrasted with extensive collections of dull scenes where, seemingly, nothing of real consequence is happening. The film constantly reiterates the fact that McCall is the kind of guy who goes out of his way to help strangers in trouble and wants to encourage the people in his life to be the best person they can be, despite the fact that this theme was the driving motivator for the events of the first film. There is nothing wrong with reminding the audience why they should be rooting for McCall, but using upwards of four minor characters to do so is gratuitous excess. It is almost as if the writer forgot that this film was a sequel and devoted far too much time into reintroducing who the protagonist is. Perhaps the most frustrating part of the screenplay is that the third act holds some interesting and exciting scenes, but the 90 minutes leading up to this point make the great moments bittersweet.

The film’s saving grace is undoubtedly Denzel Washington’s performance. This is his fourth collaboration with director Antoine Fuqua and the two show hints of their chemistry intermittently throughout The Equalizer 2. Washington’s portrayal of McCall’s humanity fractured with flashes of unflinching brutality becomes less and less representative of the ‘good guy’ and becomes more akin to the kind of unpredictable, terrifying threat of a horror movie.

It is the occasional glimpse of underlying potential that makes The Equalizer 2 disappointing. The film runs for two hours and, unfortunately, the pacing makes it feel like it. Instead of doubling down on its strong lead character and thrilling displays of action, an overabundance of minor and convoluted first two acts leave a sour taste that can’t be cleansed.

2 starsIn cinemas: July 19, 2018
Starring: Denzel Washington, Pedro Pascal
Directed by: Antoine Fuqua