The Equalizer 2

Denzel Washington reteams with director Antoine Fuqua for this sequel to their 2014 actioner about a former CIA operative with a sense of social justice. As in the original, the combination of moral drama and brutal violence makes for an awkward fit, but Washington’s performance is charismatic enough to distract from this internal contradiction. Fuqua’s direction is slick but generally uninspired; the sequences meant to highlight Washington’s nobility (such as those depicting his protective interest in an at-risk Boston teenager) fail to generate much of a dramatic spark. Screenwriter Richard Wenk saves all his best ideas for the climax, when Washington faces down a group of bad guys in a small town that’s been evacuated due to an impending hurricane. In this sequence alone does Fuqua communicate a sense of danger, location, and momentum. With Melissa Leo, Bill Pullman, and Pedro Pascal.