Saturday, July 21, 2018

On The Greatness Of The Equalizer 2

7/21/18

On The Equalizer 2 (with a maybe a few spoiler alerts but not really):

Denzel Washington at the centre of every scene in The Equalizer 2 is what makes it simply terrific for the kind of movie it is.

What kind is that? 

I’d say it’s the Equalizer kind, a guy operating on his own intense code of honour, with a sunlight clear black and white discernment of right and wrong and good and evil, and doing the right thing in meting out violent, often lethal, justice in redressing vast imbalances between the victimizing wickedly strong and the victimized innocent weak. 

If you totally don’t want to see the opposite of Merchant and Ivory or My Dinner With Andre or Claire’s Knee or Taste or Cherry, then give Equalizer 2 a wide pass. It’s not for you.

But if you don’t mind or, more, like me, simply enjoy, justice dispensing violence, some righteous maiming and killing, then get with it, the sooner the better. The movie is great in that and it’s more than that too. 

Denzel Washington makes it something much more than your one dimensional Rambos or Schwarzenegger flicks. He’s a fantastic, charismatic, compelling actor who simply draws you in to the very heart of whatever he evokes. He makes you doubtless believe that Robert McCall can do everything he does; and he makes you devoutly agree with his every emotional, physical and intellectual reaction to whatever he comes across, witnesses and confronts.

Plus the movie tells a hell of a good story, is fast moving, with sensational camera work and excellently crafted action sequences.

And it’s artful too, including in:

the symbolism of the coming storm that blasts its way through the movie’s long climactic near to last scene; 

the play of the storm strewn chaotic, blindingly opaque , dusty greys, an extended metaphor for the fog and greyness of obscuring, murderous evil that posits and acts on its nihilistic posit that nothing matters, until that posit is righteously swept away by the indefeasible force of necessary but redeeming and clarifying violence; 

the skilful knitting in of a number of sub-stories that only layer and add to the centrality of what the Equalizer does and who he is and are not in the slightest any kind of distraction; 

the nicely woven in psychological evolution in McCall throughout the movie as he comes to some sort of terms with his past, that being at one with his symbolic rebirth;

and in the continual evocation of the movie’s framing theme  of “in search of lost time,” as a copy Proust’s novel keeps recurring in different scenes so as to be a kind leitmotif for McCall’s main psychological preoccupation and his coming to some portion of peace with it.

The Equalizer 2 has gotten uniformly mediocre reviews that generally run on the theme that Denzel Washington’s great acting makes a bad movie bearable. 

I disagree.

Without him, it’s true, it is hard to see the movie as good as it is, but isn’t that true of so many quality movies that have brilliant acting at their centre? What would they be without it? 

The flaw in this recurrent reviewers’ theme is the line of reasoning that because Denzel Washington is so brilliant and the movie behind him is quite less so, he makes a bad movie better. But that doesn’t follow: the brilliance of the former needn’t take away from the estimable quality of the latter. 

Rather, I’d put it that he makes a good movie so much better than it would be without him. But really here, how can we know the dancer from the dance?


I give The Equalizer 2 a 4 out of 5 for the kind of movie it is: it’s got a great beat and you can dance to it.

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