Review: ‘A Quiet Place Part II’ (quiet harder)

Adding prologue context with a bit of world building helps the sequel improve the original while excelling on its own.

Following a welcome prologue missing from the original film, the Abbots are on the move, making their way to the fire-signal location last observed as active… and hoping for an ally. After Marcus (Noah Jupe) falls prey to a trap, his mother Evelyn (Emily Blunt) begs survivor Emmet (Cillian Murphy) for help. Emmet’s hard no softens when Regan (Millicent Simmonds) runs off to pursue a possible clue to nearby location that could keep them all safe. Unfortunately, not everyone surviving the last year are “worth saving,” as Emmet puts it, and there could be many such folk between them and any sanctuary… if it even exists at all.

Writer, actor, and director John Krasinski cements his franchise, following up his little-indie-that-could with a logical sequel — one that’s been sitting on the shelf for the last year as the pandemic closed cinemas. While he spends very little time in front of the camera this time due to the previous film’s revelations, the buzz for this continuation is loud, and newly vaccinated viewers are itching for a reason to come back to theaters. With a built-in audience and a trailer that’s been on repeat after seeing one of those things crawling out from inside a runaway bus, is this the movie that will set the box office on fire this Memorial Day weekend?

The sequel confirms what fans have suspected all along: Krasinski may not have original had a plan for a trilogy, but he was always thinking about how and why he could do it. Leveraging his beats from the original with the new introduction “Day 1,” the director resets his stage to show how we got here while also introducing the necessary backstory of folks viewers are going to meet again. Cillian Murphy’s Emmet is a worthy successor to father Lee, but it’s the kids who are given the opportunity to lead by example and take the risks. While the film ends in a similar denouement-less blackout like the original, the borderline deus ex machina timing of it provides an amazing storytelling device employed to show parallel action ramping up the drama in a feat of precise editing. For those who doubted, Krasinski has the chops and proves the first film wasn’t a fluke.

More like missed opportunities than actual mistakes, A Quiet Place felt incomplete and too mysterious for its own good while still delivering a decent flick. It becomes more obvious now this was a choice rather than an omission, allowing backstory to be seeded as a means to expand without going full global apocalypse. In addition to many answered questions, the sequel poses a few which won’t directly affect our group of protagonists as yet but could in the near future, and that’s smart. The stage is now set for a trilogy armed with enough expectation an eventual third film will not be merely a conclusion but a must-see event. If this outing is indeed successful, the filmmakers can probably name their budget to make it work.

It’s been reported Millicent Simmonds is the reason a sequel exists at all, specifically the opportunity to tell her character’s story. As a deaf actress cast in a role built into the story itself, it informs her capability rather than show her as having a disability, especially in a world as dangerous as the one her character inhabits — an idea touched upon in last year’s Sound of Metal sans the apocalypse. There are only a couple of slips for things that could be improved upon, but what’s on the screen more than glosses over such minutia. It may not have been the plan, but it’s wonderful now that it exists… and Emily Blunt suggests her husband has the idea to round out the franchise with a welcome third and final installment.

A Quiet Place II is rated PG-13 for terror, violence, bloody/disturbing images, and a rare instance of improving the original with a damn good sequel.

Four skull recommendation out of four

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