Denzel Washington is back as one-man killing machine Robert McCall in The Equalizer 2.
Retired special-ops agent McCall spends his days as a Lyft driver, and comes across an endless list of shady characters. That is until he destroys his car fighting off a guy sent to kill him.
Never one to turn a blind eye, McCall remains determined to equalize the world’s scum, including hired guns, government agents-gone-wrong and rapists armed with black cards to pay for their problems to go away.
The Sony Pictures release is the first sequel of Washington’s career, and features him re-teaming with Training Day director Antoine Fuqua, who directed the actor to his second Academy Award.
Narcos star Pedro Pascal and Moonlight actor Ashton Sanders join the cast, while Oscar-winning actress Melissa Leo returns as former CIA boss Susan Plummer.
This time, something terrible happens to Plummer, prompting her best friend McCall into extreme vigilante mode.
Unlike the first film, where the bad guys were Russian mobsters, this time they’re American.
Critics are split on this latest installment, though they all agreed Washington delivers another knockout performance.
As of Friday afternoon, the crime thriller had a 49% Tomatometer rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with 46 out of 93 reviews ranking the film as fresh. The other 47 listed it as rotten.
Los Angeles Times reviewer Kenneth Turan loved the action, saying he can’t wait for chapter 3.
“The film is effective where it needs to be, and if there is an Equalizer 3, in line to see it is where you’ll find me,” Turran wrote.
Ja-Quan Greene of Black Nerd Problems also liked what he saw.
“Denzel crushes this role and turns a would-be straight-to-DVD movie into a legitimate slobberknocker!” Greene wrote.
Sara Michelle Fetters of MovieFreak.com told readers The Equalizer 2 is better than the first film.
“There is a tonal consistency to The Equalizer II its predecessor never had,” Fetters wrote.
But NPR critic Chris Klimek wasn’t quite sold, praising the acting while panning the violence.
“The Equalizer 2 is a reasonably well-written and (of course) beautifully acted serving of geriatric-virility violence porn,” Klimek wrote.
Meanwhile, David Ehrlich of IndieWire urged Washington not to make another sequel.
“The Equalizer 2 might know what death is, but it doesn’t know how to deal with it in an interesting way,” Ehrlich said. “Worst of all, it leaves the door open for The Equalizer 3.”
The New York Post’s Johnny Oleksinski was even more blunt.
“The Equalizer should be locked in a room with The Terminator,” Oleksinski wrote. “Then this lousy series would finally be killed off.”
The Equalizer 2 is now playing in theaters nationwide.