The wife was out of town for work last week, so I finally got a chance to watch a couple of action movies that I’ve wanted to see: The Equalizer 2 and Mile 22.

I largely decided to abandon the action genre with only 5 to 6 coming out a year.

I was really looking forward to both of these films because for some reason Hollywood has to do something to keep me interested.

The Equalizer 2

The first Equalizer set up the premise of Robert McCall a CIA assassin who has faked his death and begins to help unfortunate souls strike back against the criminals that victimize them.

I quite enjoyed this movie because it was a simple premise, executed well, with a tight perfectly paced script and some really good unique action scenes.

Equalizer 2 has basically the same framework as the first, but instead of the first third of the movie setting up the premise and backstory of the characters, it starts with a few scenes of Denzel kicking ass and adds some exposition to the story.

This opener is a bit choppy, but it moves. The third act is where things started to drag for me. McCall’s former CIA boss is assassinated in a brutal manner and he needs to investigate the crime.

At this point, the script starts to go off the rails due to some wholly unoriginal ideas.

The “mystery” isn’t much of a mystery at all and the whole thing feels like we are just killing time until we can get to the finale. The villains are pretty damn weak too; they are pretty much an afterthought, only fully introduced in the last act of the movie.

The Climax

In the first film, the ending takes place in a hardware store similar to a Home Depot. McCall takes out a team of badass mercenaries using tools and hastily assembled booby traps. It was intense and damn fun.

This one tries to mirror that ending by having a tactical team go up against McCall in a small beach town being slammed by a hurricane. Unfortunately, this time out it all feels a bit bland, like the filmmakers are just going through the motions.

The CGI weather that permeates the scene undercut the tension instead of enhancing it.

The Verdict

I give this 2.5 stars. Worth a watch on a rainy afternoon while drinking a bourbon, but not up to par with the first.

Mile 22

This film is the fourth collaboration between Mark Wahlberg and Director Peter Berg. Berg seems determined to be the poor man’s Michael Bay and that certainly doesn’t change with this movie.

The movie has a pretty simple setup: in a foreign country, Iko Uwais from The Raid plays a foreign Special Forces guy who has information on some missing radioactive material.

He’ll only give the CIA the location if they evacuate him from the country and take him to the US. A secret CIA tactical team then has to take him to an airstrip 22 miles away while coming under continuous attack.

The stripped down premise is very simple and should be a solid foundation for a fun movie, but the script and the direction works against the movie. The simple premise is overcomplicated with unnecessary exposition and backstories.

Wahlberg’s character isn’t just a badass tactical guy, he’s autistic and was placed in a secret CIA super soldier program like MK: ULTRA when he was a kid. Another team member is going through a divorce and a significant amount of time is spent on her child custody issues.

Ok, you’re thinking: I don’t give a damn about the script, I’m watching this thing for some badass action!

The Good

The actors all do a pretty good job of playing tactical badasses. They know how to hold their guns and move like they know what they are doing, plus the hand to hand combat is pretty good.

I liked the tricked-out M-4s they were using, but I was hoping for the team to employ some heavier weaponry like a grenade launcher or a belt-fed machine gun or something along those lines. Iko Uwais is his usual badass self and at one point the movie basically becomes a scene in The Raid as the team takes shelter in a crappy apartment building.

The Bad

Director Berg is more enamored with fancy camera tricks and quick cuts than making the action intense. There’s just a certain intimacy and immersion that is missing from this movie that kept me from really enjoying it.

They all seem to be having a lot of fun though…

Watch Zero Dark Thirty, Sicario or even 13 Hours and you’ll know what I mean. The scenes that are homages to The Raid actually underscore how the action in Mile 22 is not up to par.

Overall verdict: 2 stars.