A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Equalizer 2 is the sequel to Denzel Washington's 2014 action film The Equalizer and is loosely based on the same-named 1980s TV series. Like its predecessor, it's very violent, but the appealing main character and the inventive action scenes will make it entertaining for older teens and up. Expect to see lots of guns/shooting and knives/stabbing; there are blood spatters and gory wounds. Men beat up a woman, slamming her around a room, and a man shoots a woman in the head. There's also an implication of sexual abuse -- not to mention eye gouging, a man being shot with a speargun, explosions, car crashes, and crime scene photos. Language includes sporadic but strong uses of "f--k," the "N" word, and "s--t." There's a sequence involving drug dealing, hard drug use and drinking are briefly shown, and one minor character appears to be an alcoholic. Background characters smoke cigars and cigarettes. Ride service Lyft is featured prominently throughout.
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What's the story?
In THE EQUALIZER 2, former secret agent Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) takes a quick jaunt to Turkey to retrieve a kidnapped girl. Then he returns to his life in Boston. Presumed dead, he lives quietly, reading and driving for Lyft. McCall befriends a teen neighbor, Miles (Ashton Sanders, Moonlight), who dreams of being an artist. When their courtyard is covered in graffiti, McCall encourages Miles to re-paint it. Meanwhile, McCall's former colleague Susan Plummer (Melissa Leo) visits him on his late wife's birthday before she heads to Brussels to investigate a supposed murder-suicide. Later, she's attacked in her hotel room, and McCall gets word that she's dead. He reveals himself to Susan's partner, Dave York (Pedro Pascal), and starts investigating her death. Unfortunately, this brings him to the attention of a group of killers. Worse, the killers decide to use Miles as bait to catch McCall.
Is it any good?
This sequel to The Equalizer, itself based on the 1980s TV series, is more of the same, with (too) familiar screenwriting, a compelling lead character, and inventive action scenes. Director Antoine Fuqua, screenwriter Richard Wenk, and star Washington reunite for The Equalizer 2 as if they'd never left, slipping back into their well-worn roles with expert ease. Wenk cooks up a nifty, James Bond-like "unrelated incident" opening, just to show that McCall's skills are still sharp (and he still uses his stopwatch like a boss). There's also an easily identifiable "surprise" villain and a very basic good-vs.-evil, honor-vs.-betrayal plot.
Washington finds McCall's sympathetic center, spending time listening to and observing his Lyft customers, quietly moved by their small joys and sorrows. But the real reason to watch is Fuqua's expertly staged action sequences, including the opening scene on a train in Istanbul, a tense home-invasion sequence in which Miles hides inside McCall's secret room, and especially the storm-swept showdown. McCall meets the bad guys in his seaside hometown, where the wind is so strong the soundtrack echoes with the groans of structures being tested on their foundations and the spatter of rain. The Equalizer 2 is ultimately as weightless as any of a dozen action thrillers made in the 1980s, but it's also enjoyably diverting.
Talk to your kids about ...
Is McCall a hero? A role model? How does he decide who's nice/worth helping and who isn't nice (and worth killing)? He does many good deeds, but he can also be very brutal. How would you feel about someone like this in real life?
How is drug dealing portrayed? How does Miles view it, and how does McCall view it?
How does this movie compare to the original? How does it compare to the TV series?
- In theaters: July 20, 2018
- On DVD or streaming: December 11, 2018
- Cast: Denzel Washington, Pedro Pascal, Melissa Leo
- Director: Antoine Fuqua
- Studios: Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures Releasing
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 125 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: brutal violence throughout, language, and some drug content
- Last updated: July 16, 2020
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