As a thriller, this is vastly superior to A Quiet Place in nearly every way. There is a palpable tension in every single minute of the movie’s runtime, with director John Krasinski milking the dread of uncomfortable silence and the chaos of startling noise for all their worth, even if it does become a bit repetitive by the end. Perhaps that’s what most impressive of all: this is essentially the same movie as the first, yet it achieves far more mileage using the same gimmick of being unable to make a sound. This can be largely attributed to Krasinski, who feels much more confident on a second go-around as a director. The set-pieces here will go down as some of the year’s best, with Krasinski cross-cutting between parallel story arcs in ways that not only get the blood pumping, but really flex his eye as a visual storyteller.
Thrills aside, there is enough heart here to mask a shallow story. The family dynamic was the driving force of the first film, and here we see its natural evolution, picking up right where things left off. Characters are pushed to their absolute limit, often separated from one another as they are forced to adapt in the absence of Krasinski’s character. This gives different actors time to shine; Millicent Simmonds emerges as a clear standout, but new addition Cillian Murphy steals the show, with his grief-ridden performance encapsulating the movie’s emotional core. His character’s introduction marks an attempt at worldbuilding, but there still isn’t enough here to justify a sequel on the basis of story — something proven when the movie abruptly ends with 20 minutes seemingly missing. The ending truly robs the movie of a climactic emotional punch, while also managing to be unsatisfying in its own right. But, in a way, I don’t really care. This is an incredibly fun exercise in tension, and I’m happy Krasinski found an excuse to refine the first film and deliver one of the better movies of the summer.