In a kind of mini-prequel to the original film, husband and wife Lee and Evelyn Abbott (Kraskinski and his real-life wife Emily Blunt) are seen taking care of their children, hearing-impaired Regan (Millicent Simmonds), Marcus (Noah Jupe) and Beau (Cade Woodward). Casually tense tracking shots, in a sleepy, upstate New York town, give way to Altman-esque snippets of camaraderie and lo-fi bliss (as everyone gathers to watch a baseball game, Evelyn pushes Beau on a swing and gets her bottom “kicked”).
Just as we’re remembering how much we love these characters – boom! - blind aliens, galvanised by sound and vicious to the max, descend. Then we’re zipping ahead to where the first film left off. Those who’ve seen A Quiet Place will know what happens to two members of the family. Let’s just say, there’s a lot to compute and the real sense of loss is an integral part of the fun.
In the next chunk of the film, Evelyn, now with a mewling baby to care for, needs to find a safe haven, which means putting her faith in former neighbour Emmett (Cillian Murphy). The latter is quite the gloomster. He says the human survivors of this alien-invasion are almost as bad as the monsters themselves. Regan, very much her dad’s daughter, is more hopeful. With only a gun and her trusty hearing aid, she sets off to connect with the wider world.
Three of the most impactful films of 2021 so far involve leads who use sign-language. In Godzilla vs Kong, Sound of Metal and now AQPII, the spoken word pales beside what hands and fingers can convey, while actors with real-life “disabilities” are given room to breathe. There’s nothing worthy about these projects. They don’t talk about revolution, they embody it.
The acting is excellent, across the board. Simmonds, given more to do than in the first film, is utterly compelling. So are Jupe and Murphy. And Blunt? Though somewhat sidelined by the plot, she’s her usual gorgeous, Monica-Vitti-fierce self.
In truth, the writing here isn’t as consistently sharp as it was in the first movie. And a few scenes – including one that hints at a potential rape – reek of producer Michael Bay. Visually too, the terrain is more familiar. And why is it that Evelyn has salon-beautiful hair and Emmett’s beard is at least kempt, while the baddies resemble crusties who’ve spent the last two years in a septic tank?
Still, the finale’s too satisfying for that to be a problem. Whisper it: Krasinski’s done it again, this is going to be huge.
100 mins, cert PG-13. In cinemas from June 3