REVIEW: A Quiet Place Part II [2021]

Rating: 7 out of 10.
  • Rating: PG-13 | Runtime: 97 minutes
    Release Date: May 28th, 2021 (USA)
    Studio: Paramount Pictures
    Director(s): John Krasinski
    Writer(s): John Krasinski / Bryan Woods & Scott Beck (characters)

They’re not the kind of people worth saving.

Part of the appeal to A Quiet Place was its vacuumed existence as a chapter in the lives of people as they are right now without any desire to pretend who they were or what they may become is relevant. It’s not because it can’t be. The Abbott family can’t afford to remember or dream because alien creatures have decimated Earth. If not for the fact that young Regan (Millicent Simmonds) was born deaf and therefore pushed the rest of them to learn sign language as a means of internal communication, they probably would have been killed long ago too. They’ve since survived unspeakable tragedy (the death of their youngest) and found reason to hope (the impending birth of a new member), but today remains everything.

Writer/director John Krasinski realizes that finding success again with A Quiet Place Part II means staying true to what worked back then. Making a sequel at all is somewhat counterproductive towards that goal (the way he and original screenwriters Bryan Woods and Scott Beck allowed characters to die with purpose and without sentimentality was crucial) since it moves our focus away from the episode itself and into its characters’ past, but he stays on the fringes to ensure he only presents what’s absolutely necessary for this next episode. We don’t need to waste time getting to know Emmett’s (Cillian Murphy) family because they’re all dead now anyway. The pain that remains is what matters. Lee (Krasinski) and Evelyn (Emily Blunt) trusting him as a friend is what matters.

Evelyn needs that more than anything. With Lee sacrificing his life to save her, Regan, Marcus (Noah Jupe), and the newborn, she needs whatever help she can get. Their house was destroyed in the climactic battle, their sound-proofed room to protect from the baby’s crying (the monsters attack sound due to blindness) is gone, and the discovery that feedback from Regan’s hearing aid immobilizes the creatures long enough to get a clear shot at their heads beneath the exterior shell of armor is still new. So, they walk. They leave the carefully mapped path Lee had marked by sand (so they could travel wherever they needed with bare feet) and find themselves in unfamiliar surroundings. Fate throws a curveball (injuring Marcus) and then a reluctantly outstretched hand: Emmett.

Krasinski just barely expands the scope here. He keeps things centered on the Abbotts with Emmett an addition to their clan rather than entry point into a new community. He’s been alone since his sons and wife passed on and he’s been scared and guilty because he believes he didn’t do enough. And anyone who has seen the original (Why are you watching the sequel if you haven’t?) knows, Regan feels the same. She blames herself for her brother’s death during the original’s prologue and has been desperate to prove to her father that she has what it takes to be a protector/hero like him. Lee may be gone now, but Regan’s desire to make his death mean something only emboldens her further towards that goal.

This is therefore Emmett’s redemption and Regan’s coming out party. She discovers a radio broadcast may mean safety as well as a way to amplify her feedback on a large enough scale to debilitate every monster within range of its signal. She therefore sets off to find it with Emmett in tow as guardian, ears, and partner. She’ll need him too since he’s the only one of them who understands what the apocalypse did to people. The Abbotts have been completely isolated for the past year, believing the only humans left must also be in hiding and struggling to live. Emmett knows otherwise. He’s seen the monsters that mankind has become. Those without love and purpose turned feral and some may not want the world to be saved.

A Quiet Place Part II doesn’t seek to condone or explain away this fact as much as use it for a brief counterpoint to the potential of salvation awaiting via the radio broadcast. You have despair (Scoot McNairy) and hope (Djimon Hounsou) living in the wilderness. Which will Regan find first? Will she be able to survive the former to reach the latter if the answer is despair? Add the separation of characters allowing for concurrently dramatic paths (Evelyn venturing out to get supplies for her ailing children and Marcus attempting to conquer his fears to protect the baby) and Krasinski is building off multiple action-packed set pieces to hit a joined climax despite so much distance between them all. Everything is this moment. You must win today.

The result is great. I’m not sure about people saying it’s better than the first considering it’s pretty much the same exact film with a wider playing field, but to each their own. It doesn’t lose what made the original fresh and surprising—that’s all we can ask any sequel to do, right? We get a flashback in the prologue to set-up Emmett’s appearance. We get another three-pronged attack as far as propelling the characters to their final destination (separate ones this time rather than the single “home” of the first). And it all ends with an abrupt cut that simultaneously leaves our heart pounding and our minds racing as far as what that last frame means moving forward. The bold move is leaving canon to our imaginations.

Will they? Probably not. Talk of an in-universe sequel away from the Abbotts has been bandied about because money ultimately drives the bus in Hollywood. Does the success of this chapter give me hope that any subsequent ones will maintain a consistent level of quality? Sure. Krasinski said he only did the sequel because he thought of a way that worked. He was right. Blunt is great again. Murphy is a nice addition, stepping into Krasinski’s unflappable shoes with more uncertainty. And Simmonds shines as the star. This is her film. As everyone looks to remain breathing, she’s cutting a path forward into the unknown. The roadblocks are fiercely dangerous, but never drawn out. And if she survives, she keeps moving to the next one. Today earns tomorrow.

[1] L-r, Marcus (Noah Jupe), Regan (Millicent Simmonds), and Evelyn (Emily Blunt) brave the unknown in “A Quiet Place Part II.” © 2019 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.
[2] Emmett (Cillian Murphy) braves the unknown in “A Quiet Place Part II.” © 2019 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.
[3] Man on Island (Djimon Hounsou) braves the unknown in “A Quiet Place Part II.” © 2019 Paramount Pictures. All rights reserved.

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