ST. LOUIS — What happened, and where will they go from here?
Sequels that are made for a reason always shine brighter than mere commercially-charged additions. John Krasinski's "A Quiet Place: Part Two" is a prime example of time being well spent. Picking up right where the nail-biting original left off but not forgetting to explain how the monsters got to Earth and how life was in that small yet sweet town, this second chapter has purpose and doesn't mess around.
Like "A Quiet Place," this is a startlingly intense movie to take in with an extremely lean running time of 97 minutes. Krasinski doesn't waste a minute of our time in taking the audience back to the final peaceful moments before the outbreak, before zipping us ahead into the current predicament facing Evelyn (Emily Blunt), Regan (Millicent Simmonds), and Marcus (Noah Jupe).
For a film with high expectations coming in, "A Quiet Place: Part Two" matches the hype and makes a strong case for being an overall sharper film. By laying the groundwork for the attack and then expanding the world to include other survivors like Cillian Murphy's Emmett, Krasinski's film brings back all the emotionally rendering drama and sizzling suspense that made the original such a diabolical experience-while raising the stakes and presenting another merciless adventure film.
If you thought the ugly, blade-arm wielding, and 100% bad news creatures were scared of Evelyn's shotgun after that last confrontation, guess again. They are hot on the remaining family's trail as the sequel unfolds. Just know you shouldn't leave the theater or your seat during the film, that is unless you're barely hanging onto the edge of the chair by the time act three begins. Krasinski's film is a masterclass in building and sustaining tension. There are several JUMP moments, and you won't be able to predict them all. By quietly subverting a few of our expectations while adding new souls to the fight, this movie stands on its own two feet as an extremely well-crafted film.
The acting is superb across the board. Blunt is tremendous once again, doing so much even with the smallest amount of dialogue and gestures. As a fierce mother desperately trying to keep her kids alive, she breathes fire and life into a role that many would just cry and emote their way through. She makes it count. Murphy hasn't had a cinematic role this juicy in quite a while. Hiding those suave Irish look and delicate voice behind a rugged beard and deeper tone, the actor imbues Emmett with equal amounts of tough wisdom and self-torture. Like Evelyn, he's suffered his own amount of loss and sees an opportunity to make things right by helping her family survive.
But the true standouts here are the younger actors. Simmonds gets to build on her breakout role as the smarter-than-most daughter who essentially weaponizes her deafness to fight the creatures, who look more terrifying than ever. She gets more dialogue and screen time here, especially in the second half of the film when things start to get real dicey. Jupe, as he showed in 2019 with fine performances in "Honey Boy" and "Ford v. Ferrari," manages to stir your soul with facial tics and expressions alone. The kid has range to burn. As you may have guessed, dialogue is sparse here, so the actors have a bigger task of keeping the audience engaged amidst their furious nail-chewing.
Both Simmonds and Jupe astound in a very late scene that should bring tears to your eyes as your fist slowly begins to form a pumping motion. Don't worry about the end of Krasinski's film delivering the thrilling goods like the first film did; in my opinion, it's topped here. When the film hit the credits (suddenly cutting to black again)-I needed two cigarettes, a bowl of ice cream, and a need to catch my breath. Once "A Quiet Place: Part Two" gets going, it doesn't stop being intense. Not for a second.
The way this film uses sound, or lack thereof, as a tool in its foundation makes all the difference. In a startling early scene, the sound cuts in and out, taking us into Regan's point of view before tossing our minds back into the outlook of Evelyn feverishly driving the car away from an oncoming bus. Yes, that memorable clip from the film's preview plays extremely well in real time.
The music easily renders emotion, and the editing is crisp. You won't stare at your phone once, and the ability of Krasinski-who also wrote and co-produced the film- and his team to juggle the exciting moments with the slower, story-building scenes is exemplary.
For all the exhilarating moments the film carries, the best parts exist around quieter, dramatically meatier sequences. Places where actors shine and the audience grows even closer to their creations. I can't stress how well Krasinski makes you care and feel for these people, human damsels in constant distress. It's easy to keep us guessing about who will live and who will die but when you keep hitting the heart with the screenplay, a sequel becomes something more.
Cheers to Krasinski. Out of all the takeaways from this film, his level of intelligence and filmmaking craft should be taken more seriously after this incredible sequel. While he does make a small acting return here as Lee, it's his direction and writing that stand tall in the end. Thanks to Mrs. Blunt for insisting he return to the helm.
Sequels are usually made for profit. The chance to give the audience more of something they like. The difference here is that, while it will make lots of money, "A Quiet Place: Part Two" exists to explain and expand on its world, much like "John Wick: Chapter Two" did. It's the perfect sequel, because it matches the hype and just about outdoes a near-perfect original. Every shot is precise and has purpose.
Why can't all sequels be like this? I'll be watching it again very soon.