Silence is still survival, but it is no longer enough. After surviving an assault on her home, the Abbott family (sans one) in matriarch Evelyn (Emily Blunt), daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds), son Marcus (Noah Jupe), and their newborn baby leave their home base in search of other survivors. They are armed with the knowledge that high-frequency sounds can fatally harm these creatures who hunt off sound, though it is uncertain how many of these beings run amok in this now apocalyptic society.
Upon their journey, the Abbotts come across Emmett (Cillian Murphy), an old family friend and same town dweller who is also processing his own loss and residing in a compound safe space unsure of his next move. A radio plays “Beyond the Sea,” and Regan believes this to indicate that they aren’t far from a band of survivors, potentially in a fortified community that may be able to turn the tide in this war. And as such, a dangerous trek—against the wishes of Marcus and unknown to Evelyn until she discovers Regan is missing—begins.
Theaters have been reopened for a minute (ask Tenet, albeit different circumstances), but I think after seeing the immediate box office returns, we can mark A Quiet Place Part II as the official stamp that will likely get those who were waiting for a tentpole to get them back in. It was released during the Memorial Day weekend (at one point in the movie calendar the de facto start of blockbuster season), it is a sequel to a successful original movie, and it sees fully vaccinated individuals ready to fully get back out anywhere and everywhere with many states, counties, and even theaters chains themselves loosening mask mandates. Normalcy(ish?), how we missed thee. As for the movie in question itself, “AQP2” is perfectly solid; a victim and benefactor of its own predecessor’s success.
There’s way too many people returning for this film to have registered as a massive disappointment, one of them being director John Krasinski, appearing as an actor for a phenomenal opening sequence that I’m not sure the rest of the flick tops. All said, the open world scope that Krasinski works within and outside of this time is nothing short of impressive. Intimate close encounters are present, but AQP2 leans into and at its best when displaying wide-scaled mayhem, drawing higher levels of pure chaotic fear than found in the first installment. Whets the appetite for the type of set pieces that Krasinski could give audiences in the trilogy capper. It also whets the appetite to see what The Office alum could do if gifted a massive summer movie budget for some kind of sci-fi/action original.
Instead of being one of three scriptwriters, Krasinski is all alone on that front in the sequel. Through two movies, he and the franchise clearly have a noted talent for minimizing bloat and telling a story in less than an hour and forty minutes of runtime, save for a small, unexplained community that exits as soon as it arrives and feels like it belongs in The Walking Dead. Loss and what we’re spurred on to do in the face of it is the strongest theme of the story. Is it better to be “safe” but at the mercy of fear, reluctant to take a chance? Or should we push to find a higher ceiling solution even if danger lingers around every crevasse? Just by the simple fact that we know more about and now see the monsters in full tamps down on the tension A Quiet Place had, this theme ends up being one of the real draws of the film, particularly in the second half as Krasinski juxtaposes his talented child leads’ journeys with smooth editing from the efforts of Michael P. Shawver.
Connected to the above, Blunt receives first billing and as one could expect, is strong here. But in A Quiet Place Part II, it makes sense that she’s not the focal point, especially after giving birth. She is the supporting star taking a backseat to Simmonds and Jupe. The two not only have tight-knit chemistry as sister and brother, they also have the talent to carry stretches of the film all on their own. Despite AQP2 not being as consistently thrilling as the first one, it isn’t without thrills thanks to the emoting qualities of these two youngsters. They play on the brain in a way. If they’re scared and unnerved, then I think I should at least kind of be scared and unnerved as well.
If one were to make a movie in a lab that were perfectly designed to be the movie that gets people to return to the theater, it would probably look like A Quiet Place Part II. Short runtime, sequel to something so many enjoyed, star power, and not too weighty but not disposable, either. No matter the state of the world, that’s the recipe for a good summer feature, too.
Photo credits go to thrillist.com, yahoo.com, and digitalspy.com.
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