When Denzel Washington starred in the Hollywood remake of the classic TV series The Equalizer, it was a surprise success.

It made over $100 million domestically and is slightly fresh at Rotten Tomatoes. In my review at the time, I called it one of the “better crowd-pleasing” action movies of the year.

Denzel doesn’t do a lot of sequels, so when they announced that he was returning for a second Equalizer movie, it was another surprise.

As a catch up — in the first movie, Robert McCall was a former black ops soldier who faked his own death and went into retirement. When he meets a young girl who has gotten into trouble, he uses his specific skills to save her.

The movie ended with one of the more spectacular fight scenes you will see in an action movie with Denzel owning the entire film.

The Equalizer 2 starts out with Robert on a train in Europe where he finds a man who kidnapped his own daughter just to punish his ex-wife. He kills all the men’s companions and then gives the man a chance to do the right thing. From the look of it, the man made a good decision when the little girl was reunited with her mother — all thanks to an unknown stranger.

Basically, that is just to show the audience that Robert is still out there working as a guardian angel to people who need help. Instead of working in the hardware store he did in the first movie, he is now a Lyft driver, which puts him in contact with people on a more personal level.

There are a couple of minor subplots in the movie, the first with Robert befriending an elderly man who was separated from his sister as a child in Nazi Germany and believes he found a painting of her that he wants to reclaim. The second is with a young black man who is a neighbor that Robert wants to help before he gets involved with a local gang.

However, the main story involves some hired killers who end up murdering the only friend that Robert has — his former handler Susan (Melissa Leo) — when she sets out to investigate, knowing that the deceased is one of her agents.

This puts Robert in the crosshairs of the killers and sends the action back to the coastal town that he shared with his deceased wife — a town he left after her death and had never returned to.

The reason to watch The Equalizer 2 is to see the action and watching Denzel Washington kick butt is always entertaining. In this movie, Denzel seems to call on his King Kong character from Training Day — at least in his aggression — and he once again carries the entire movie on his reliable shoulders.

The entire movie once again builds to an explosive climax — this time in the coastal town as a hurricane bears down on it. However, while the first movie remained focused on saving the young girl, this movie seems to meander around, while waiting until the second half to focus on the main conflict.

While some of it works — and Robert’s relationship with both the old man and his young neighbor are both feel-good moments — it seems that the movie is just padding the running time while constantly losing focus on the plot.

The Equalizer 2 is not a bad movie. It is a good story with some great action (and the climax is again an inspired bit of action filmmaking), but this one just seems to lack the focus that causes it to fall short of the original.

There is also the problem that the fighting style from the first movie — with Robert seeing everything happening before it happens — is only used once here. What was a very cool difference between Robert and other action heroes is just thrown to the wayside in this sequel.

The Equalizer 2 is still worth seeing for Denzel Washington’s strong performance and Antoine Fuqua’s amazing direction, but the story is just not strong enough to push it to the top of the 2018 action movie slate.