MOVIE BUFF-ET: Washington metes out familiar violence, justice in ‘Equalizer 2’

Columbia Pictures

“The Equalizer 2” offers nothing new to the action/revenge genre, but sometimes the familiar can be fun, and as a fan of Denzel Washington it’s hard for me to deny the pleasures of watching him mete out justice, even if he does play judge, jury, and executioner.

Washington can’t help to be compelling as ex-CIA agent Robert McCall, who uses his skills to brutally help those who can’t defend or help themselves. He is a grim guardian/avenging angel who doesn’t mind stepping in and making a violent difference in the lives of those who prey on the helpless.

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The film is just a different flavor of Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry, Liam Neeson’s “Taken” series, or Charles Bronson’s “Death Wish” movies, but director Antione Fuqua does a nice job of keeping the familiar from getting too stale in the first sequel in Washington’s career.

This time out, McCall’s main mission is taking down the murder of his former CIA handler Susan Plummer (Melissa Leo), and of course that takes us on a twisting tale that ends up being even more convoluted than I had imagined.

However, this moving isn’t for thinking. It’s for getting a visceral charge out of Washington’s character taking the revenge that we can’t afford to and really don’t want to take in our real lives. It’s enough to live vicariously through Denzel as a modern day John Wayne.

Alert viewers will notice an homage to the Duke and director John Ford with a shot that harkens back to the final scene of their classic revenge Western “The Searchers.”

Film buffs know that Ford and Wayne were tipping their hat to silent film superstar Harry Carey with the shot that Fuqua references.

The draw of “The Equalizer 2” is Washington violently solving problems like he has in so many other roles. His charisma and technique are undeniable even though we’ve seen him do it before in movies like “Man on Fire,” “The Book of Eli”, and his recent remake of “The Magnificent Seven,” also directed by Fuqua.

“The Fugitive 2” isn’t the type of film I would recommend everyone to rush out and see because it is so familiar, but it is the sort of movie an action film fans will likely enjoy.

(R) 2 hr.
Grade: C+

Classic Corner

The Sandlot

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Some movies just take you back to a simpler time. Writer-director David Mickey Evans’ “The Sandlot” is one of those movies.

Like most kids who grew up in the 1960s and ‘70s, I have fond memories of the neighborhood gang gathering together to play baseball or football, and the other antics we’d get into, and this movie captures that feeling about as well as any movie I’ve seen.

Critically speaking, the movie about a group of boys in 1962 who spend their summer playing America’s Greatest Pastime may not technically be a classic, but the movie is a whole lot of fun.

The camaraderie between the boys who first make fun of the poor play of Scotty Smalls and then accept him as a much-needed ninth teammate is infectious in this sentimental but also very funny flick.

The gist of the plot is how do the boys retrieve a baseball that was signed by the great Babe Ruth after it is hit over the fence into the yard where a “monstrous” dog known as “The Beast” dwells.

The film includes other funny childhood gags, particularly a classic scene at the swimming pool, where gang member Squints schemes to get his first kiss from the lifeguard of his dreams.

The movie features James Earl Jones as Mr. Mertle, the owner of “The Beast,” and Karen Allen and Dennis Leary as Smalls’ mom and stepfather.

With its narration and nostalgia, the movie has been likened to a summertime version of “A Christmas Story.” The comparison is fitting.

If you’d like the relive the fun the movie offers on the big screen, the Malco Razorback Theater will have a special showing of the film at 7 p.m. Tuesday in celebration of the movie’s 25th anniversary.