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Equalizer 2, The
I have no recollection of the first Equalizer film, or perhaps maybe I was confusing it for Safe House, which would appear to be similar both in premise and in cover art strangely enough. Nevertheless, the second Equalizer film is the first in Denzel Washington's storied career where he's played the same character twice. I'm not sure whether that's a good or bad thing, or an indication of future cinematic karma, but figured you should know this.
Anyway, Equalizer 2 was written by Richard Wenk and directed by Antoine Fuqua, reprising their respective contributions from the first film. Washington returns as Robert McCall, a former marine and intelligence operative who occasionally does small, localized missions that serve a ‘Robin Hood' nature where Robert gives to the poor, so to speak. One day his handler or the person giving him these missions (Melissa Leo, Oblivion) is killed during a homicide investigation she was working with Robert's old marine cohort Dave (Pedro Pascal, Kingsman 2: The Golden Circle), Robert tries to get to the bottom of the case and perhaps finds out that maybe he shouldn't have gotten involved with it to begin with.
If there's something I can say about Equalizer 2 it's that it's a touch all over the place. There is a need to push whatever mythology that the McCall character has going forward, but there is also the need to do things with whatever characters exist in and around the ‘Equalizerverse' to shuffle them to the side. If there was something I'd have suggested, making Leo and Bill Pullman (who plays Leo's husband in the film) secondary to the story seems to be something that was a mistake as both actors' individual and collective talents are squandered. Orson Bean appears as a Holocaust survivor whose story is intriguing but also should not have been given the time that it did for the film. So if you either did something else to shift the balance here, or eliminate these two subplots altogether, you'd probably trim 20 minutes from the film and make it better by making it leaner, focusing on McCall's story, McCall's kicking ass and taking names.
Denzel is fine, he kind of borrows a bit from other roles (some under Fuqua's direction) that make him fun to watch onscreen; there's a moment when he realizes and calls out his antagonist that even though the dialogue is maybe the tiniest bit hackneyed well, that's Denzel saying them lines and I hope the hell he kills you and all your friends like he wants to! Then the film's final battle scene occurs at a coastal house McCall owns and you wonder why we're even at this point and in a way, it sums up the problems with Equalizer 2.
It may be a nice novelty to see Denzel Washington do the same character for the first time twice in his career, but in a funny way he's sort of been doing a similar character for some time now in other films, and the difference being that in this film, the story doesn't rise to the occasion that those films (or the Equalizer that precedes this) appear to be set. Given better circumstances this could have worked, but everything else around Equalizer 2 save for the Equalizer is a distraction.The Blu-ray:
So over the holiday I took the 4K TV plunge and between that and a strange timing window, this was the first big studio release Blu-ray that I've seen on it and boy howdy does it look nice. The black levels are inky and include a fantastic contrast. Image detail whether they are facial pores on Denzel's face, or concrete textures on a vandalized (and later reborn) mural are sharp as can be. Colors are vivid, going from an orange tone in Washington's fake beard, or greens and browns of exterior shots, and background detail is present throughout. Sony put in some effort on this and it looks great.The Sound:
The DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio track is also up to the task from the start when a train is going through turkey. The lossless track gets a lot to play with and handles it effortlessly. There is a bass-heavy set of music cues that go from and to scenes, and environmental effects like a rain or ocean storm bring in the rear channels and subwoofer with balance and power. Gunfights have bullets whiz by, knife and fist fights include channel panning and thuds of fists into faces and other body parts. Dialogue is consistent and just as well-balanced through the film and the overall listening experience shakes the home theater you have. It sure helped break in the new gear.Extras:
There is something called a "Retribution Mode" with Washington and Fuqua, and it implies it's a picture-in-picture track when really the film breaks for occasional takes from the two. Granted, it's jovial and they include some decent recollection about a scene or two, but these are generally quick hits that add maybe 20 or so minutes to an already long movie and aren't entirely informative. Next are 11 deleted and extended scenes (23:18) where some moments are worth it and others, less so. "Denzel as McCall" (7:00) looks at the character from the perspective of Washington and Fuqua, while "Seconds Til Death" (5:15) examines an action sequence or two from the film. "Through Antoine's Lens" (6:43) features a look at the cast for this film and some TV promos with NBA stars follows with some behind-the-scenes footage of same (4:31) for a chuckle or two. A trivia track is next but it's not really worth your time.Final Thoughts:
I'd have liked Equalizer 2 if it decided what it wanted to be earlier in the planning stages. As it stands Fuqua and Washington seemed to have thrown a lot of things at the wall hoping some of it would stick, but not as much of it as they'd expect to, does. Technically the disc is a beaut and the supplements, which initially interesting, wane as you go with them. If you're looking to see whatever questions from the first film are answered (or looking to test out some new home theater stuff) give it a whirl but otherwise, it's not worth much of your time.