All posts by Sheldon Wiebe

Robert McCall : Reliably


Robert McCall, the OCD ex-CIA operative with the imperturbable Zen calm, is back.

Once again played by Denzel Washington and directed by Antoine Fuqua, The Equalizer 2 is pretty much the sequel we’ve been expecting – McCall is now stepping in for those who seemingly can’t be helped and, exacting revenge for the death of a friend.

Fuqua’s The Equalizer introduced us to OCD ex-CIA operative Robert McCall – who had taken upon himself to intervene with the Russian mob after meeting an abused teen prostitute.

The unfailingly polite McCall was very different – despite his knack for ‘wetwork,’ and living with OCD, his imperturbable Zen calm made him unlike any action hero we’d seen before.

In The Equalizer 2 we get to see him taking to his new avocation of helping those who cannot help themselves – the film opens with his tracking down a man who had kidnapped his daughter solely to hurt her mother; helping a Holocaust survivor (Orson Bean), and keeping a young man out of the wrong company (read: gangs).

The most prominent of his efforts in that line is his making a boy’s club of sexual predators regret their actions after they hire him (he’s a Lyft driver here) to take it inside their air home.

The entire first act is dedicated to showing McCall doing these things, living his life and exhibiting great taste in reading (Ta-Nehisi Coates and, later, Proust) – while setting up a situation in Brussels where a married couple and McCall’s friend (and former handler), Susan Plummer the magnificent Melissa Leo) are murdered.

While the film’s initial violence is limited to the two murder sequences, we are learning more about McCall – whose Zen calm finally takes the tiniest of hits when he learns about Susan’s death – broken to him by his former CIA partner, Dave York (Pedro Pascal).

There’s a moment where you can see, in his eyes, the millisecond where he experiences loss and rage – and we know there’s a lot of death coming.

Written by Richard Wenk, The Equalizer 2 feels much shorter than its two-hour running time because McCall is an interesting (and interested) character – he cares about people and tries to help when he can, but he’s not soft or ridiculously hard.

Washington finds a sweet spot between genuine kindness and sweetness and the kinds of things McCall has done and will do as a result of his time in the CIA (and before that, in…).

Something that really works for me is that the villains of the piece are guys with specific skills just trying to make a living but have chosen the absolute worst way to do so. At least one of them seems sympathetic for a time before going off the rails.

One of the running gags from the first film – the setting of the stopwatch – returns for a couple of sequences; emphasizing that part of McCall’s OCD.

Even more than in the first film, Fuqua keeps camera motion during action sequences to a minimum. Much of the time, we get to see the action unfold within the frame – which makes it more believable (and reinforces that Washington did a lot of his own stunt work).
If there’s one flaw that is big enough to irk me, it’s that final confrontation (it is in no way a battle – McCall’s just too good for that) takes place in a beach town where McCall used to live when he was married – in a raging storm that seems well on its way to becoming a hurricane.

Who deliberately does that?

With being the most irksome moments of the movie, they still don’t detract from the action – in fact, they play into them with unusual and unexpected consequences.

The Equalizer 2 is a worthy sequel. To the point that I would want to see a trilogy finished (and maybe McCall finding love again…).

Final Grade: A-

Comic-Con 2018: Sundance Now and Shudder Aquire A Discovery of Witches!

Streaming services Sundance Now and Shudder have acquired the Sky original production, A Discovery of Witches – starring Matthew Goode and Teresa Palmer.

The series, which will premiere on both services simultaneously, is a contemporary love story that begins against the backdrop of Oxford academic life, in a world where small numbers of witches, vampires and daemons live and work, unseen amongst humans, hiding in plain sight.

A premiere date has yet to be determined.

Continue reading Comic-Con 2018: Sundance Now and Shudder Aquire A Discovery of Witches!

13’s Sonic Screwdriver Unveiled at Comic-Con International 2018!

What you’re looking at in the above photo is the most radically redesigned Sonic Screwdriver in the history of Doctor Who (virtually every Doctor has tweaked the iconic instrument but this is a total revamp).

A limited quantity of Sonic Screwdriver Collectibles will be available to purchase at the BBC Shop at BBC AMERICA’s booth #4129 for fans attending San Diego Comic-Con. The product will also be available for pre-order starting on Wednesday, July 25th.

Comic Con International 2018 is taking place at the San Diego Convention Center, in San Diego, CA.

Continue reading 13’s Sonic Screwdriver Unveiled at Comic-Con International 2018!

This Is Gonna Be Fun (Comic-Con 2018) Teaser: Doctor Who!

The 13th Doctor pitches adventure to her new companions/friends in the Comic-Con teaser featuring both The Doctor and her new friends/companions.

Check it out below.

Comic Con International 2018 will take place July 19th–22nd at the San Diego Convention Center, in San Diego, CA.

Continue reading This Is Gonna Be Fun (Comic-Con 2018) Teaser: Doctor Who!

Shelley Conn, James D’Arcy Join Starz’s The Rook!

Starz’s supernatural spy series has added Shelley Conn and James D’Arcy to its cast – Conn as a high-level operative responsible for creating elaborate cover stories to obscure her agency’s role in shaping geopolitics; and D’Arcy as an agency operative in forced retirement.

The Rook – created by Stephanie Meyer – is set for a 2019 debut in the U.S.

Continue reading Shelley Conn, James D’Arcy Join Starz’s The Rook!

Life is More Precious Than Dignity Trailer: The Children Act!

A high court judge, whose husband is about to embark upon an affair, is called upon to rule in the case of a seventeen-year-old boy with leukemia who refuses a blood transfusion as a member of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The Children Act premieres on September 14th.

Continue reading Life is More Precious Than Dignity Trailer: The Children Act!

Payback’s a Bitch Trailer: Insatiable!

For years, Patty (Debby Ryan) has been bullied, ignored, and underestimated by those around her because of her weight. But now that she finds herself suddenly thin, Patty is out for payback against anyone who has ever made her feel bad about herself.

Netflix’s Insatiable premieres on August 10th.

Continue reading Payback’s a Bitch Trailer: Insatiable!

Purposeful Trailer: Overlord!

J.J. Abrams has another unique film in the hopper – a war movie that features distinct sci-fi/horror overtones: Overlord.

Could this be the next Cloverfield movie?  The IMDb blurb is no help: ‘The story of two American soldiers behind the lines on D-Day.’

Overlord opens on November 9th. Check out the trailer below.
Continue reading Purposeful Trailer: Overlord!

Have You Seen Me? Trailer: A Simple Favor!

Their children bring mommy vlogger Stephanie (Anna Kendrick) and wealthy socialite Emily (Blake Lively) together and they rapidly become good friends.

Then Emily disappears and Stephanie decides to find out what happened to her.

A Simple Favor opens on September 14th.

Continue reading Have You Seen Me? Trailer: A Simple Favor!