Up-Lyfting: Denzel Washington gives bad dudes a wild ride in ‘Equalizer 2’

Rideshare has hit the big time. It’s now a plot element in a major movie, “Equalizer 2,” starring Denzel Washington as a retired CIA operative hiding in plain sight as a Lyft driver. It was the weekend’s top-grossing movie.

This isn’t the type of movie I would normally head out to see, especially since it’s a sequel to a flick I never saw. But a few weeks ago, Lyft began making references to it in its weekly promotional emails to drivers. It may be the first film to feature rideshare so prominently in its plot.

So…when the film opened Friday, I made a point to see it on opening weekend and drop a mini-review into this space, a place normally reserved for my own real-life stories of what happens when the car doors close.

Not having seen the original wasn’t really a problem. It’s an action flick. So what came before isn’t that important. But I have to admit it was a hoot to see Denzel behind the wheel, finger tapping the pink countdown circle on his phone, which indicates you’re accepting a new ride. lyftscreenBut, like any other movie trying to tease out reality, there were a few technical flaws. Actual names come up with the pink countdown circle, like in this image from the film—not the generic word “Passenger” that’s shown in another scene. And drivers don’t see their ratings from passengers after a ride (the only feedback comes in a fairly generic weekly email that may or may not include a single quoted passenger comment). I have to admit, that scene was a hoot and needed to be handled that way to get the laugh.

My favorite parts? A mashup sequence of Denzel listening to a variety of riders’ personal stories as they talked on their phones in the back seat, oblivious to the fact someone was in the front seat listening to everything.

Best of all was a scene where he realizes the passenger in the back seat (below) is actually an assassin trying to take him out. (The guy never complains when Denzel starts driving away from Boston’s Logan Airport, revealing he’s more interested in attacking our hero than making his flight on time).


The protracted knife fight struggle inside the car with this dude that follows may be channeling every Lyft driver who’s ever had a really difficult passenger. Suffice it to say our hero dispatches him effectively.


So Lyft is having its 15 minutes of fame. Even though in the movie, the Lyft scenes barely take up 15 minutes of time.

The majority of the film is boiler-plate action flick, heavy on hand-to-hand fight sequences, standard thriller memes and a protracted epic gun battle in the middle of a hurricane ravaging an evacuated beach town, something that would only seem plausible if executed by protagonist and black ops character Scot Harvath in a Brad Thor novel (Yeah, I’m a fan).

My takeaway: Lyft drivers will like it. Uber drivers will just be pissed they got passed up for the co-starring role. For everyone else, it’s a standard three-of-five star experience. Fine summer fare on the big screen if you don’t have big expectations, but just as good on the small screen when it makes its way to HBO or Netflix in a few months.

If you’re inspired to give Lyft driving a try, make sure to use a driver referral bonus when you first fill out the application. Use code MIKE17396 and we will both enjoy a bonus for rides you give during your first month. You don’t need to drive in Phoenix for the code to work.