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The Equalizer 2

The 1980’s TV series ‘The Equalizer’ was a big hit for actor Edward Woodward. Portraying a vigilante for hire, it’s interesting how its themes are still relevant. Seeking justice for the oppressed in an often unforgiving world, the format would suit any era. Which is why the first ‘Equalizer’ film was such a success, leading to this sequel. Whilst Woodward is long-gone, Denzil Washington more than ably takes up the mantle. Part nostalgia trip for fans of the TV version whilst carving its own path, ‘The Equalizer 2’ delivers razor sharp thrills.

Retired CIA agent Robert McCall (Denzil Washington) is a man continually living on the edge. Currently working as a chauffeur, McCall’s former ways swiftly catch up with him. Learning one of his old friends has been murdered, McCall decides to take action. Whilst hunting down her killers, he uncovers a conspiracy testing his lethal skills against a cabal of evil-doers.

The plot for ‘The Equalizer 2’ is fairly basic. The twists and turns may seem complex but the film relies on a threadbare premise. This could be a minus but in the hands of seasoned director Antoine Fuqua, ‘The Equalizer 2’ glides as a fast pace. Having starred in several of his other films, Washington’s partnership with Fuqua has conjured fine dividends. They both know how to peel the layers of McCall’s wounded character with the solid performances of the cast adding to the script’s gravitas.

For all its emotional turmoils, ‘The Equalizer 2’ heavily leans visceral action sequences. All are superbly handled with genuine tension. Although a finale amongst a windswept town feels stagey, the level of suspense created overcomes any implausible moments. Fuqua is a master of gritty set-pieces while not lingering too much on any bloodshed. The stunt team are the real stars of the movie and more than earn their hard earned dollars.

For an action thriller, ‘The Equalizer 2’ works. It may not join others in the action pantheon but it has more depth which a few lack. A third entry wouldn’t be unwelcome with this series showing a consistent high quality ensuring a good anti-hero can never lie dormant.

Rating out of 10: 7

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

Since the 1970’s, Swedish music group ABBA have cast a long shadow. Still a mainstay on easy-listening radio with their songs used in countless movies, their appeal has spanned generations. Continuing to be popular, it was a natural that a film based on their tracks would surface. When ‘Mamma Mia!’ exploded onto stage and screen, the spectacular success of both came as no surprise. ‘Mamma Mia! Here we go again’ is more of the same. Featuring a cast swanning around the Greek islands singing ABBA tunes, it’s another amiable ride through the Swiss supergroup’s back catalogue.

Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is expecting a child with her boyfriend Sky (Dominic Cooper). Managing her deceased mother’s villa in Greece, she worries about impending motherhood. Her mother’s friends, including Rosie (Julie Walters) and Sam (Pierce Brosnan) are on hand to aid Sophie in exploring her mother’s past. When Sophie’s grandmother Ruby (Cher) unexpectedly appears, her problems increase amidst the sun-kissed allure of the Greek climes.

‘Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again’ is exactly as you’d expect. A plethora of ABBA tracks, good-looking cast, gorgeous scenery and light comedic drama. Taxing the brain-cells isn’t what this film is about although it’s unfortunate so little effort went into the script. Whilst lovely to look at, the plot drags considerably in its first half with the original cast making way for new characters. Only when the former cast return towards the end do things perk up considerably with the boredom threshold lessened.

Making this sequel the lesser of the two ‘Mammia Mia!’ films is how it contrives events to fit into the songs. Although the first movie also did this, here it’s glaringly obvious what song will appear due to the awkward set-up towards it. The new characters are uninteresting with flashbacks to the past increasing the tedium in between spectacularly staged music numbers. The Greek locations are always wonderful to view and hearing Cher tackle ABBA tunes makes up for the lack of vitality the film desperately needs.

Like re-heating a left over meal, ‘Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again’ may look enticing but on further inspection is less tasty than hoped. Given the enormous ABBA fan-base, the film will likely make a mint. But in terms of a movie experience, it’s fairly pedestrian with a third ‘Mamma Mia!’ outing as welcome as a mediocre ABBA tribute act.

Rating out of 10: 5