Antoine Fuqua and Denzel Washington’s follow-up to their 2014 TV show adaptation will be unlike any other movie.
Looking ahead to all the 2018 multiplex marquees, it’s easy to be overwhelmed. This year will be an embarrassment of riches for film-goers. We have new Star Wars, new Predators, and another trip around the Pacific Rim. We have blockbusters of all sizes, from Ant-Men and Wasps to rampaging dinosaurs. We have the return of Deadpool, Michael Myers, and Wreck-It Ralph. We have an Aquaman and an Ocean of female thieves. We have the biggest Marvel movie of all time composed of every hero they’ve previously featured on screen, and a new Spielberg movie composed almost entirely of references to other movies.
But there is one movie that you probably don’t know is coming out this year, and this is the movie that should find purchase atop your Must See of 2018 list. Coming to theaters this summer is the next chapter in a wonderfully nasty old-man-revenge story. No, I’m not speaking of Tom Cruise playing Ethan Hunt for the sixth time. I am talking about Denzel Washington once again partnering with Antoine Fuqua for The Equalizer 2.
There is a multitude of reasons you might have missed the first movie in theaters. It may have been lost in the shuffle of 2014 revenge flicks. Perhaps you were conserving cerebral bandwidth and opted for Keanu Reeves avenging his dead dog or Liam Neeson doing Taken 3 or Liam Neeson doing the other Taken 3: A Walk Among the Tombstones. Maybe you weren’t a fan of or were even cognizant of, the 1980s television series on which The Equalizer is based. Or maybe your Olympus Has Fallen viewing the year before left a bad Fuqua taste in your mouth. The last scenario amounts to you being incredibly wrong, but I’m not here to judge you.
Conversely, perhaps you, like the gents of the Junkfood Cinema podcast, saw and loved The Equalizer. Even still, you may not know that 2018 brings us The Equalizer 2. Whether you are firmly in the corner of CIA-operative-turned-elderly-good-guy-muderizer Robert McCall or not, and let us assure you that opposing him is more dangerous than wandering around Home Depot with your eyes closed, here is why you need to put The Equalizer 2 on your radar:
In this week’s episode of Junkfood Cinema, cohost C. Robert Cargill waxes poetic on how Antonie Fuqua is the new Tony Scott. Fuqua explores similar themes, is also building a strong catalog of collaboration with Denzel Washington, and his visual style is simpatico with the aesthetic signature of the late, great Scott. Bear in mind, while this is a tremendous compliment, Fuqua is no copycat. He has been telling interesting stories for years and deserves a great deal of the credit for the Oscar statue on Denzel’s mantle.
The Equalizer is a lean, mean tale of mayhem and revenge, but it also features one of the most complicated and fascinating characters Denzel has yet to play. It’s sleek and sharp, and the third act is so brutal in its honest, homemade dispatching of despicable foes as to rank it not only among the bloodiest action films but also to assign Denzel Jason-Voorhees-like murdering status. You will never buy hardware for weekend projects the same way again.
But more than any of that — more than the highlights of The Equalizer, the filmmakers involved, or any allegiance your dads may have toward the TV show — there is one enormous reason you MUST see this upcoming film. The Equalizer 2 will be Denzel Washington’s first sequel.
Think about it, for a career that has spanned decades and resulted in both some of the most critically celebrated and some incredibly commercially successful turns, Mr. Washington has never gone back to any of those wells. There are those who mistakenly believe Out of Time is a sequel to Man on Fire, but that’s only because they haven’t seen either or even bothered to look at IMDb lately; Man on Fire being released first.
We have no Denzel sequels, folks. There isn’t Another Training Day, no second testament to the Book of Eli, nor another turn of the Crimson Tide. We never got to witness Still Unstoppable, Continue to Remember the Titans, or Much More Ado About Nothing. No Deja2 or Virtuosi3, Magnificent 8 or Malcolm XI.
“But Brian,” you may scream at me, “of course some of these movies got no sequels, it would be crass, and Denzel’s characters didn’t fare too well anyway.” While I agree with you, despite you rudely shouting at me through your computer screen, it’s not as if Hollywood has been prudent enough to kibosh ill-advised sequels in the past. For reference: see almost anything. Therefore despite almost definitely having been offered all aforementioned follow-ups, and positively probably being offered garbage trucks full of cash to do so, Denzel has always said no.
Something about The Equalizer 2, something about that script, something about working with Fuqua and returning to the character of Robert McCall, was so enticing to him that he has broken his career-long, self-imposed no-sequel rule. And that is more than enough reason for me to be in that theater opening day.
For more Equalizer proselytizing, download and listen to this week’s Junkfood Cinema podcast.