Lightning Strikes Twice for Filmmaker John Krasinski

PG-13 | 1h 37min | ActionDrama, Sci-Fi, Horror, Thriller | 28 May 2021 (USA)

When released in April of 2018, “A Quiet Place” came with no high commercial or critical expectations. The studio (Paramount) was reasonably sure it could recoup the modest $20 million budget, yet didn’t screen it for the press until the Wednesday prior to opening day—a time too late for many daily newspapers to cover it.

What Paramount hadn’t counted on was the almost universal critical acclaim (96 percent) and the taking in of over $50 million at the box office on the first weekend (and an eventual worldwide total of nearly $341 million). It was clear this movie carried with it appeal beyond the usual horror demographic, mostly because it’s not really a horror movie, but more of high-wire, sci-fi thriller. Before the close of the second weekend, Paramount ordered a follow-up.

Originally scheduled for release in March 2020, “A Quiet Place Part II” was— like many films from last year—postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For the throngs of “AQP” fans this was a bit of a bummer, but they’ll be happy to hear the wait was more than worth it. This movie is among the finest sequels ever produced.

Instead of reteaming with co-writers Bryan Woods and Scott Beck from the first installment, returning director John Krasinski is the sole scribe for “Part II” which, for the most part, worked out very well. If there was anything to find fault with here, it would be the redoing of a big plot twist from “AQP” and another open-ended concluding scene. A second sequel is all but a lock, which in all likelihood will be without Krasinski’s participation.

Both a Prequel and a Sequel

Rather than immediately picking up where “AQP” left off, Krasinski ingenuously includes a pre-opening-credits short film-length prequel that addresses the harrowing events that led to what took place throughout the first installment. It is a throttling introductory salvo to a production which ups the emotional ante with each successive scene.

When it becomes clear staying in their home is no longer an option, mother Evelyn (Krasinski’s off-screen wife Emily Blunt), daughter Regan (Millicent Simmons), her younger brother Marcus (Noah Jupe), and an unnamed infant flee. With firearms and electronic equipment in tow, they follow the same sound-reducing, sand-laden paths which eventually lead them to what looks like an old foundry. Before they even reach their destination, Krasinski hints—through a rifle crosshairs perspective—that there might be a new, unseen, far-more direct threat.

The close of the first act finds Krasinski presenting his most interesting narrative gamble. For the duration of “AQP,” the Evelyn character is the principal lead, yet here, in her stead, is Millicent. A deaf performer, Simmons was an ideal choice to play Millicent (as the plot is heavily based on sound or lack thereof) and she was (properly) regulated to a supporting role in the first installment.

In “Part II,” Blunt and Simmons are given different amounts of screen time with the latter becoming the effective overall lead. Assuming chores previously performed by her father Lee (Krasinski) in “AQP,” Millicent instantly becomes the intellectual and emotional core of the story, and the movie is all the better for it.

Deaf performer Millicent Simmons
Deaf performer Millicent Simmons is actually the lead of “A Quiet Place Part II.” (Paramount Pictures)

Without even trying to be politically correct, Krasinski charges a hearing-impaired juvenile female with becoming the lead in a family-centric, action-adventure thriller with scary monsters on the side.

These monsters—who cannot see or smell (or as it turns out, swim)—play a bigger part in “Part II” than they did in “AQP,” and to Krasinski’s immense credit, he resists the urge (and/or commercial demands) by not piling on too much monster inclusion. They serve their purpose without wearing out their welcome while still retaining their considerable menace.

From Thriller to Family-Centric Drama

It might be beyond obvious, but if you haven’t already seen “AQP,” watching “Part II” first will not only leave you confused, but also perhaps angry and frustrated. This is NOT a standalone film (and in Krasinski’s defense, that is neither a good nor a bad thing). Do yourself a huge favor, rent “AQP” on any of the seven on-demand platforms starting at just $2.99.

“Part II” isn’t just another horror-thriller sequel. It’s taking an original concept and expanding on it, rather than just recycling what came before, and it joins an elite club that includes “The Godfather Part II,” “Terminator 2,” “Aliens,” and “Blade Runner 2049.” It’s not lazy, cash-in filmmaking; it extends into the unlikely territory of uplifting, family-based drama.

Lightning rarely strikes twice in the same place physically and even less frequently artistically. In retrospect, after watching both movies, Krasinski was clearly thinking long-term with these two projects. The challenge of presenting two long form stories such as these with so little dialogue was no mean feat. Krasinki was also smart to demure on being directly involved in a third installment. That’s the sign of a true artist.

Director John Krasinski
Director John Krasinski scores another success with one of the best sequels ever produced. (Paramount Pictures)

It will be interesting to see what Krasinski does next. He’s young enough to remain a viable leading man in virtually anything and experienced enough to tackle new genres while acting, writing, and directing. He could become the next Clint Eastwood. Or the next John Carpenter. Or maybe even the next Orson Welles. Or he could just stick with being John Krasinski and hopefully follow his own, distinct path. That would be awesome.

‘A Quiet Place Part II’
Director: John Krasinski
Stars: Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmons, Cillian Murphy, Noah Jupe, Djimon Hounsou
Running Time: 1 hour, 37 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Release Date: May 28
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Originally from Washington, D.C., Michael Clark has written for over 30 local and national film industry media outlets and is based in the Atlanta Top 10 media marketplace. He co-founded the Atlanta Film Critics Circle in 2017 and is a regular contributor to the Shannon Burke Show on Since 1995, Mr. Clark has written over 4,000 movie reviews and film-related articles. 

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Michael Clark
Author: Michael Clark

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