Noah Jupe, Millicent Simmonds, and Emily Blunt in "A Quiet Place Part II" directed by John Krasinski. (Image courtesy Paramount Pictures)

The saga of The Abbott Family, mother Evelyn (Emily Blunt), daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds), and son Marcus (Noah Jupe), continues in this follow-up to 2018’s “A Quiet Place” from writer-director John Krasinski.

Review

A QUIET PLACE II (2021)
Emily Blunt, Cillian Murphy, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, Djimon Hounsou
Directed by John Krasinski

Picking up where the first film left off, the trio plus baby Abbott, are forced to find new shelter as the storyline introduces us to new characters played by Cillian Murphy and Djimon Hounsou. Think of “AQP2” as an extension of the first film, not necessarily a sequel. The story doesn’t reveal new insights, and the aliens don’t evolve, but that’s OK. The film still delivers plenty of first-rate chills and thrills making this the perfect summer popcorn movie. (Just chew quietly).

Before the storyline picks up where it left off three years ago, Krasinski treats us to a brief prologue that shows how small-town USA transformed into a living hell as the creepy-crawly aliens with ultra-sensitive hearing invaded Earth on Day 1. Fireballs streak across the sky interrupting a lazy afternoon at the ballpark just as Marcus (Jupe) is up at bat. The rapid aliens attack, people scramble, the Abbott family runs for cover. The opening scene doesn’t explain the how’s and why’s regarding invasion, but at least we get to see Krasinski in front of the camera one last time as patriarch Lee sheltering with his hearing-impaired daughter Regan (Simmonds), who is destined to play an important role in defeating the teethy intruders.

The opening scene also introduces us to family friend Emmett (Cillian Murphy) who will once again cross paths with the Abbotts in the post-apocalyptic world of Day 474 as the storyline picks up where it left off after a cliffhanger moment in “A Quiet Place.”

Let’s recap. Lee has paid the ultimate sacrifice to save his family, Regan has discovered a new weapon to fight the aliens — the feedback from her cochlear implant amplified through a speaker debilitates the space creatures — Evelyn (Blunt) has become quite handy with a shotgun, her Annie Oakley sharpshooting skills paired with Regan’s aural weapon, make for a lethal combination. Marcus is slowly learning to overcome his fears (I love how he begins to evolve into a man by the film’s end), and baby Abbott remains in tow, the family using oxygen tanks and a soundproof bassinet to lug the little guy around.

Krasinski made his mark in episodic television as Jim in “The Office” and he continues his successful run on the small screen in the title role of Prime Video’s “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan” which has been renewed for a third season.

His TV experience is part of the success behind “AQP” and “AQP2.” The films have a vibe similar to AMC’s “The Walking Dead” just replace the walkers with aliens. The Abbotts traverse the countryside looking for shelter in the post-apocalyptic setting while encountering other survivors, many “not worth saving” as indicated by Emmett in the film, while the constant threat of aliens permeates the atmosphere. These films would make a great series and by all indications, there will probably be a third film to at least close out the trilogy.

The tension remains high as the setting in “AQP2” goes from the farm to an old steel mill to a radio station that still plays vinyl records (Bobby Darin’s “Beyond the Sea”). After spending the past three decades working in radio, I’ll admit I loved this setting and the details used to give the station an authentic look, including carts used to play the commercials (BTW, I hated making those). From “The Fog” to “Pontypool,” and now “AQP2,” radio stations and horror go hand in hand

Krasinski does a terrific job of crafting suspense, and the special effects are superb. Apart from Cillian Murphy, the only other addition to the cast is the wonderful Djimon Hounsou as a survivor living in a colony with others where time seems to stand still. I’ll remain vague so you can discover the surprises as the story unfolds. Emily Blunt and Noah Jupe excel, but it’s Millicent Simmonds whose performance once again makes her the film’s VIP. Her character is destined to become the series’ version of Sarah Connor.

(3 ½ stars)

Now showing in theaters

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Joe Friar

Member of the Critics Choice Association (CCA), Latino Entertainment Journalists Association (LEJA), the Houston Film Critics Society, and a Rotten Tomatoes approved critic.

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