The Equalizer 2

 

            We'd all like to have an Equalizer like Robert McCall (Denzel Washington).  On a train outside Istanbul, he's the quiet one reading a book who is also a man with a mission:  accost a Turkish American who kidnapped his daughter not because he loved her, but because, out of spite, he didn't want his ex-wife to have her.  The Equalizer returns with the little girl, who melts into her mother's arms.

            Next thing we know, Robert McCall is driving for Lyft.  One of his rides is an elderly Jewish man who keeps telling him about his search for his lost sister.  They were separated by the Nazis during the War, and haven't seen each other since.  Robert McCall spends some time with the man, listening to him, looking at his pictures, caring about his preoccupation.  McCall also spends some time with a neighbor kid, Miles (Ashton Sanders), who's got some artistic talent, but is also on the verge of getting in with a gang, partly because then he thinks he can get revenge for his brother who was shot.  McCall tries to convince Miles that he has a decision to make with his life, and it's irreversible.

            On one of his Lyft rides, McCall encounters a callous young man putting a dishevelled young woman in the back seat who's obviously hurt, and he only pays McCall to drive her home.  McCall takes her to the hospital instead, finds out she was assaulted by a group of arrogant, entitled young rich men, and McCall pays them a visit to remind them of their obligation to her.

            McCall is still grieving for his wife, but he has friends, one of whom, Susan (Melissa Leo), seems to have known his late wife, also.  But there's more to this---Susan works for some clandestine government agency which McCall used to be part of, as well---that's where he learned his unique close-quarter skills.  Though McCall has successfully walked away from that life, by staging his own funeral in D.C. and moving to Boston, he gets dragged back in, because Susan is on the trail of betrayals within the outfit, which puts them all at risk.

            Director Antoine Fuqua seems content to move at a cerebral pace.  There are plenty of quiet scenes taking place in small apartments and tiny courtyards.  There's some brutal action in the middle which doesn't seem to intersect with these characters, but eventually we find out the connections, because it takes someone like The Equalizer to figure it out for us.

            At the end, we're playing violent hide-and-seek (the losers die) at an abandoned beach resort in the middle of a hurricane.  But we all know that even the tempest outside can't stop our intrepid Equalizer, who has a way of making wrongs right, and then quietly fading back into the woodwork.  How can we not like a guy like that?

 

Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, DFW Film Critics Association