“The Equalizer 2” came out in 2018, and while this isn’t exactly a review of the film, it had me thinking about the often odd behaviour of bad guys in action flicks. (Disclaimer: my comments are based solely on what seems logical and not on any knowledge of military or secret agent tactics and training).

Early in the film, our hero, who is a Lyft driver, picks up a passenger. At this point he knows that someone has killed a close friend, and he does not believe it was just a robbery gone wrong. So this man, who is carrying a stuffed toy, asks to go to the airport, and says when asked that it is his daughter’s birthday and the toy is for her. The hero McCall (played by the wonderful Denzel Washington), is watching this man in his rear view mirror and thinks he’s acting a little odd. So, he does a test, and turns away from the airport. The man does not notice. McCall then points out that the man has not commented he is going in the wrong direction, and the man then produces a knife and tries to stab McCall. A fight of sorts ensues, with McCall swerving the car around to put the assassin off his aim and bang him around a bit, before punching him with one hand while steering the car with the other. The man then produces a gun.

Firstly, why did the villains brief their assassin so poorly that he didn’t even know where he was. Secondly, assuming he was intending to kill McCall after arriving at the airport (when the car was stationary), I can see that when he knew he’d been sussed he would attack immediately … but why with a knife? He’s got a gun, he has nothing to lose, why not use it? Thirdly, the main villain was taking a huge gamble – if it did not work, McCall was going to know he was behind it, because no one else knew he was alive. This is, of course, exactly what happened.

So, McCall has discovered that the people who killed his friend are people he used to work with ie they all worked together killing people for the US government. This is apparently better than killing people for money, according to McCall, though his ex-pal and villain-in-chief Dave (Pedro Pascal) disagrees. (I couldn’t help but think Dave had something of a point). So MCall has lured the bad guys to a small coastal village where he used to live with his wife, during a storm which is considered severe enough for everyone to have been evacuated. This leaves the good guy and bad guys to have their showdown without interruption. It also leads to my first question.

Why do the bad guys take the bait? They are familiar with McCall, who used to be their boss. They know he is extremely capable. On ground with which he is familiar, during a storm, he would have an advantage, especially as he has arrived ahead of them and has had time to set up booby traps and so forth. They have no deadline, no reason to decide he must be killed that very day. Why not say no, we’re not that stupid, we’ll wait until the storm dies down, or we’ll lure him to come to us. We’ll set the stage for this. We’ll take the high ground. But they don’t do this. Bad guys never do this. They always think numbers will prevail.

So, Dave, the head of the baddies and apparently the only one with something resembling a brain, finds a high vantage point and sends his henchmen in on the ground. Apparently, this is so he can cover them from his vantage point. How? The visibility is so poor that when we are given the supposed view through his rifle sight it barely shows anything. How could he be sure that any of the figures he sees are his men and not McCall? Another gripe at this point is that the baddies split up, because of course they do, in order to be picked off one by one more easily.

Remember what I said about luring your quarry to you? Well, a hostage would be a good idea, wouldn’t it? And they had a hostage. So, what do they do with him? They leave him in the boot of their car, and Dave only reveals his presence and threatens his life after his men are dead. You’d be forgiven for thinking Dave wanted them dead, or something.

I have read that it is not as easy as some movies like to make out, to make an accurate distance shot in high wind. Other than a throw-away line about the wind being a challenge, Dave seems to be making quite accurate shots without too much difficulty. I guess we are to accept that he must be a brilliant shot.

A brilliant shot he may be, but he’s not very smart, after all. After he misses the shot intended to kill the hostage due to McCall messing up his aim, he starts shouting and waving his gun around, yelling that he’s going to get McCall or something. Between the howling wind and his shouting, it is an easy matter for McCall to climb up to the tower Dave is on without him hearing, all the better for a dramatic final hand to hand fight, which of course the hero wins.

On a side-note: why does Robert McCall, having successfully faked his death way back when, continue to use his real name? Heroes are strange too, I guess.

I like Denzel Washington, but on the whole this is a pretty generic action movie. I’d love to hear more examples of villains behaving weirdly in movies, though. Please feel free to leave a comment.

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