From the instant the lights dim, A Quiet Place 2 is remarkably different.
It opens with a brief thank-you video from John Krasinski, who has been extremely understanding of the plight audiences face in returning to theaters. He is earnest and hopeful, both in his message and in his movie.
Another thing: There are no previews, at least not when I saw it. Also, there were only three other people at the showing (one of those being my girlfriend). So, no, this might not have been a typical blockbuster showing. But it’s not a typical blockbuster movie, either.
There’s nothing quite like a movie theater, and when you have a film perfectly suited for one, it always carries a little extra punch. When I stepped inside the local theater for the first time in well over a year, now fully vaccinated and with all the emotional baggage that Covid so graciously supplied, I didn’t know what to expect. Just another sequel? A life-changing, post-pandemic masterpiece?
The Covid Thing
I’ll get to the movie itself in a second, but I think it’s important to understand that this movie will always be closely related to the time and way it came out. The year-long delay, the pandemic winding down, all of it affects how audiences will view the film. Maybe it won’t forever, but for right now, this is a Covid movie, because how can it not be?
That being said, nothing in this movie feels like its written about Covid… and that’s a good thing! The movie balances apocalypse and family, grief and hope, in the same way that all of us have had to. So while this might be considered a Covid movie, it’s not about Covid. It’s about survival in disaster, courage in mourning, perseverance in impossible situations.
In other words, it’s about all of us.
The First hour
This movie grabs you by the throat pretty much right away. From the opening flashback scene with John Krasinski (who makes the most of his screen time) to the new character’s introduction, the pace is relentless. There’s no doubt where we are: an apocalypse. Silence is used like a weapon, same as in the first movie, but there’s also noise and lots of it.
The first hour is filled with thrills and tension, but also heartfelt conversations, pleading, and sacrifice. It’s the kind of opening that this movie desperately needed, and it plays along with A Quiet Place perfectly. The ending of that movie and the beginning of this mesh together seamlessly. Even the cut scenes are awe-inspiring at times, as well as the dual storylines that develop. All of it’s done so well, I can’t help but be sad that Krasinski isn’t directing another.
Answering Questions From Last Time
Something weird happened with this movie. In my review of A Quiet Place, my biggest qualms were the lack of worldbuilding and the odd ending. And guess what? Part 2 did what very few sequels have; it cured all of those worries. Almost instantly, even. It was like every reservation I had entering the theater, it noticed and quickly punched in the face (with the ferocity of a sound-seeking creature). What a blast, honestly, to watch a sequel so good at being a sequel.
Worldbuilding? Cured. This movie’s main goal, you might say, is to expand the world. There’s a whole scene where they have to step off the sand-path they’ve created and leave behind this house, this town. From that moment onwards, the movie never looks back. It builds and builds, breathlessly, until a fully-fleshed world is before our eyes. And the ending of the last one? Well, that shotgun, that hearing aid, all of it returns. It’s so refreshing, even, the way it continued those plot points. And rarely, if ever, do I find sequels refreshing.
This movie thrives when it comes to heart. There’s so much of it, it’s overflowing at times. The family dynamics from the very beginning are touching and powerful. The uncertainty of the outside world, struggles with grief and forgiveness, the question “Is any of this worth it?” These are all real, important themes that carry over into our current reality. Like I said above, it’s impossible to miss the connections between this movie and Covid. So much of the journey has to do with perseverance, with hardships. That’s something everyone can relate to right now.
One line in particular stood out to me, delivered by the movie’s breakout star, Millicent Simmonds. She says, in a moment of confrontation, “You said you couldn’t do enough, and now you can.” I think that idea is at the core of this movie. When faced with unthinkable circumstances, do you view it as an impossible obstacle or a chance to “do enough,” when you never could before?
In short, this movie is about overcoming those situations. It’s about unlikely heroes and mourning lost ones, too. When you step outside after the movie, it strikes you how all-too-real this work of fiction can be.
Like the first movie, I couldn’t wait to see what happened at the end, because most of the runtime is packed with surprises. When a movie dances around like this one and keeps you on your toes, the last 30 minutes can make or break it. While this ending certainly didn’t ruin the movie, and honestly I liked a lot about it, once again it’s very ambiguous. Not quite as much as the first, but still not your typical ending.
I won’t give away any spoilers, but after a movie fueled by family and sacrifice and love, the ending left something to be desired. I wanted a reunion, even if it took an extra twenty minutes of screen time. I wanted a nice bow on the story, even if they left room open for a third (which they did). At the very least, I wanted some kind of resolution or closure on the traumatic events of the past two hours. Instead, this film ended just like the first one began. All of a sudden.
reliance on Action
I got the feeling, as the movie progressed, that the action scenes were extremely well-done, but more numerous than I’d expected. Horror movies, of course, have that element of action, where the creature jumps out, etc. But this one took it a step further. The characters would become trapped in some type of near-death situation, and the action played out as they tried to escape.
Imagine my surprise (or lack of it) when the name Michael Bay rolled through under the producers section. This isn’t to hate on Bay or even action-oriented movies, but the last third of the movie suffered from lack of meaningful moments. The sacrifice, of course, was meaning for action. Maybe with a proper ending, this wouldn’t feel like such an issue, but as it stands now, it bothered me a little.
In this time of opening stores and lowering facemasks, A Quiet Place (Pt. 2) asks the questions that we’ve been hiding from. Are we even worth saving? Is any of this going to be okay? What hope can you have in dark times?
Thankfully, it doesn’t leave us without answers. This movie is a resounding and hopeful statement about the reality we face. It leaves you with a feeling of gratefulness, not for the movie, but for all those heroes who it represents. In the face of alien monsters or Covid, there will always be amazing people, and they’ll often come from the most overlooked places.