However, even the most incongruous product placement isn't nearly as distracting as the imbedded political messages. One subplot concerns an Iranian immigrant neighbor, who spends much of her time tending to a vegetable garden, gives McCall some of her vegetables and is the victim of a senseless hate crime. The implication is that immigrants are good-hearted, industrious people, particularly the Iranians, who would never cheat on international accords, develop nuclear weapons, or fund terrorist groups such as such as Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad or the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
A child is kidnapped and spirited out of the country by an abusive estranged husband, but the government is powerless to intervene. Obviously, we need stronger laws to protect women, children and especially mothers, who should always have custody.
A young man on his way to a job interview rehearses commending a prospective employer's record of environmental responsibility.
A swarthy, corpulent girl who seems to be of Mideast descent, calls her mother to announce her acceptance into a college of engineering. The implications are that girls should be given the educational opportunities denied them in many Muslim countries and that minor speaking roles should be given to plus-size actors, not to the producer's comely girlfriend.
An ethnically mixed group of children get along famously, because school integration and inclusion programs work.
The bad guys all use military-grade assault-style automatic rifles, suggesting we need stronger gun control.
A subplot stretched across half a dozen scenes borrows heavily from Woman in Gold to convey the message that survivors continue to suffer from Holocaust atrocities, especially the separation of families, vis-à-vis separation of illegal immigrant families by ICE.
In a lengthy subplot, McCall goes #MeToo on a group of affluenza types who apparently drugged and gang-raped a prostitute, but didn't even bother to ask her name.
One almost expects McCall to wear a Hillary For America T-shirt.
The political messages are invariably liberal. And yet McCall engages in vigilantism, carries a concealed weapon without a permit, doesn't store his weapons in a firearms safe, seizes and searches cell phones without a warrant, uses threats and torture to elicit confessions, et cetera. Adventure thrillers are, by their nature, right-wing and the numerous imbedded liberal political messages seem incongruous and distracting.
Beyond that, the time spent lingering on product placement shots and political commentary leaves less time for plot and character development. Consequently, the movie drags a bit and is ultimately less satisfying.
TE2 has no conventional romantic subplot. McCall has no girlfriend, but frequently sits around acting morose over the death of his wife. No girls come on to him. He doesn't visit a strip club or even ogle a pretty girl walking down the street. There are no scenes of gratuitous sex, no femmes fatales, or sexy girls in revealing outfits, or even muscle dudes displaying chiseled bodies. Everybody keeps their clothes on, although the only product placement for clothes seems to be for trainers. The only person McCall hugs is another guy. The setting is very feminist-centric.
In place of a romantic subplot, we have several ersatz love relationships. An old Jewish Holocaust survivor is a father figure. McCall's former CIA handler is a surrogate mother figure. A neighbor who is at risk of becoming a gangbanger is a surrogate child, as is a young girl he rescues. His former fellow mercenary assassins are surrogate brothers.
There are several scenes depicting violence toward women. Several scenes touch upon the evils of consuming alcohol or drugs. Women are strong, equal partners. The entire movie has a strong liberal feminist vibe, like a modern WCTU perspective.
There are no chase scenes. The martial arts are quick-cut and difficult to follow. Forensics and police procedures are a bit dubious.
Production values and performances are solid, although not exemplary.
Overall, the film is not bad, but feels as if it could be much better. If all the screen time, effort and passion that was devoted to political messages that are largely irrelevant to the plot were instead devoted to making the characters more three-dimensional and the plot more credible and less derivative, the film could be much, much better.