Antoine Fuqua has become one of the biggest action directors, with hits like Training Day and Southpaw under his belt and a long-running partnership with Denzel Washington. His next film, a sequel to his 2014 box-office smash The Equalizer, is set for release on July 20.
Fuqua started his career as a music video director, making videos for Prince and Toni Braxton, before transitioning into films. With his kinetic style and sharp eye for mixing character and action, it didn’t take him too long to find success on the big screen. Let’s take a look at his biggest films to date, just in time for The Equalizer 2 to hit theaters.
Training Day (2001)
Training Day follows Alonzo Harris, a narcotics officer who is tasked with training Jake Hoyt, a rookie cop. It doesn’t take more than a few hours in the car with Harris for Hoyt to realize his “mentor” doesn’t always play by the rules, and that he might regularly bend the law beyond its breaking point.
The film, Fuqua’s third as a director, starred Denzel Washington as Harris and Ethan Hawke as Hoyt. Training Day was met with positive reviews, with critics paying specific attention to Washington’s performance as Harris – a performance that would win the actor an Academy Award. Training Day became an iconic cop movie, with such a sizable cultural footprint that a follow-up TV series was produced in 2017. That series was canceled after the untimely death of its star Bill Paxton.
The Equalizer (2014)
Thirteen years after Training Day, Washington reunited with Fuqua for The Equalizer. The action-thriller is a remake of the classic ’80s television series of the same name, with Washington playing the iconic Robert McCall character. The film deviates from the series a bit as it follows McCall, a retired CIA Black Ops operative. Before his wife’s death, McCall promises her that he’ll never go back to his dangerous job, but when a young girl gets in trouble with Russian mafia, he has no choice but to try and help out.
The trust between Washington and Fuqua is evident in The Equalizer, which was a box-office success. Clearly a sizable audience enjoyed the film, because a sequel – Washington’s first – was commissioned in 2016.
Southpaw centers on Billy, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, an undefeated professional boxer living in New York City. Despite his winning record the guy has problems. He typically takes a beating in every bout, and he’s so hot-headed that a rival easily taunts him into a brawl that leaves Billy’s wife dead and ultimately costs the boxer his career and custody of his daughter.
The film goes deep into Billy’s troubled personality, and blends boxing setpieces with Gyllenhaal’s performance to create a rare exploration of both Billy’s own life and the lives of many people around him. Rachel McAdams and Forest Whittaker also star in this film about loss and the struggle to overcoming your demons.
The Magnificent Seven (2016)
The Magnificent Seven, a remake of the classic ’60s Western of the same name, centers on a small town under the tyrannical rule of mining tycoon Bartholomew Bogue. As Bogue uses extreme force to “persuade” the townspeople to work, a pair of locals seeks protection from a US Marshal (played by Washington) who has old business with Bogue. The Marshal recruits six other fighters, and soon an epic showdown is brewing between the robber baron and the magnificent seven.
With line-up that features the likes of Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, Lee Byung-hun, and Haley Bennett alongside Denzel Washington, this Western revival has no shortage of audience appeal.
The Equalizer 2 will hit theaters July 20, 2018.