Denzel Washington will again take the law into his own hands when The Equalizer 2 opens on July 20. The action-thriller follows 2014’s The Equalizer and reunites Washington with director Antoine Fuqua. The gritty film series follows Robert McCall, who uses his expert skills to help those in need and bring justice to those that do harm to the innocent.
This isn’t the first time the character has settled scores for the needy, as the films are loosely based on an ’80s TV show of the the same name.
Saving People On The Small Screen
Long before Denzel Washington was punishing the guilty on the big screen, Edward Woodward was doing it on TV. The Equalizer was a crime drama series that debuted on CBS back in 1985.
The show featured Woodward as retired intelligence agent Robert McCall. Like Washington’s version of the character, this iteration of McCall also had a mysterious past. This would ultimately drive him to use his skills to help others through means of protection and investigation. Anyone in need was able to find him through a newspaper advertisement which simply read, “Got a problem? Odds against you? Call the Equalizer.”
Thanks to the character’s wide range of skills, the series experimented with different genres, including elements of spy and procedural dramas. The formula proved to be popular, and the series ran from 1985 until 1989, for a total of 88 episodes. Though it was initially renewed for a fifth season, a conflict between CBS and Universal Studios unfortunately resulted in its cancellation. But that wouldn’t be the end of Robert McCall.
New Life on the Big Screen
In 2010, Russell Crowe sought to bring the character back — this time, in a big budget film. Crowe was initially due to star in the project, but long before shooting the revival underwent a few changes. In 2014, 25 years after the original series ended, Robert McCall finally made his return in big screen adaptation The Equalizer.
Directed by Antoine Fuqua, the film featured Denzel Washington in the lead role, alongside a supporting cast that included Chloë Grace Moretz, Marton Csokas and David Harbour. The film version of McCall is a retired CIA black ops operative who promises his dying wife that he will never return to the dangers of his old life. After her death, he tries to keep that promise, spending his time working at a big-box hardware store. But when a young girl finds herself on the wrong side of the Russian mafia, it isn’t long until he steps in to even the odds against her.
The film was a much darker interpretation of the concept than the TV series and leaned heavily on violence. Nevertheless, the performances and action sequences won fans and praise. Moreover, it was a box office success, grossing $192 million worldwide, proving that Robert McCall still had something to offer. The response ultimately led to the commission of a sequel.
The Equalizer 2 will see McCall attempt to start over once more — this time as an Uber driver. But when one of his old friends is murdered, he once again seeks to punish the guilty. In his now-trademark style, he sets out on a violent quest to avenge her death and bring the killers to justice.
Robert McCall will unleash his fury once more in the upcoming Equalizer sequel. But none of it would have been possible without the original series. Just as Washington commands the screen on film, Edward Woodward’s performance on the show was one of the veteran actor’s finest. The TV show’s legacy lives on through the film series.
The Equalizer 2 hits theaters on July 20, 2018.