(US - 2018)
Directed by Antoine Fuqua. Written by Richard Wenk. Cast: Denzel Washington, Pedro Pascal, Melissa Leo, Bill Pullman, Ashton Sanders, Orson Bean, Jonathan Scarfe, Sakina Jaffrey, Kazy Tauginas, Garrett A. Golden. (R, 122 mins)
In the first sequel of his nearly 40-year career, the great Denzel Washington again demonstrates enough intensity and steely gravitas to elevate a routine and generic revenge actioner to slightly above average entertainment. Loosely based on the fondly-remembered 1985-89 CBS series THE EQUALIZER, the big-screen franchise--please don't call the next one THE 3QUALIZER--is the fourth teaming of Washington with his TRAINING DAY director Antoine Fuqua, and only slightly retains the premise of retired CIA agent Robert McCall (played by Edward Woodward in the series) offering his services to those in trouble and with nowhere else to turn. With Washington's interpretation of the character already established, the sequel is really just a high-end version of the kind of vigilante movies Charles Bronson would crank out for Cannon in the 1980s. Globetrotting from Istanbul to Brussels to D.C. to Boston, it does give Washington's McCall, a widower who leads a solitary existence and drives a Lyft part-time (he was apparently let go from his Home Depot job after the last film's in-store nail-gun and powertool bloodbath), a chance to help a few people in need: a young girl taken from her mother to her Turkish father's homeland; artistically-gifted teen Miles (MOONLIGHT's Ashton Sanders), who lives in his Boston apartment complex and is tempted by gang life; and elderly Holocaust survivor Sam Rubinstein (Orson Bean sighting!), who's spent his life unsuccessfully searching for both a stolen painting and his younger sister after they were separated as kids and sent to different concentration camps.