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Movie Review: 'A Quiet Place Part II' Resonates

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

"A Quiet Place Part II" was among the very first movies to delay its opening due to the pandemic. John Krasinski's thriller, originally set to open on March 20 of last year, got pushed back first to September, then to April of this year. Today it finally opens. Critic Bob Mondello says, shh, it's worth the wait.

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: In the opening scene, Lee Abbott - played by John Krasinski - walks into a general store from an empty street. And if you saw the first movie, you are conscious of every sound.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

MONDELLO: His footfall as he walks past a space shuttle toy. The plastic bag ripped off a roll to put oranges in. The TV news the proprietor is watching.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "A QUIET PLACE PART II")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) There's limited information at this point. We don't know about injuries...

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) What happened?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #3: (As character) Some bomb, I think.

MONDELLO: The first "Quiet Place" plunked down in the middle of a cataclysm - Day 89, it said on screen - as the characters encountered hyperfast, hyperstrong critters that would be on them in seconds if they made even the tiniest sound. This one is about to pick up on the story where that one left off, but first, this quick detour. Day 1 - everything's still pre-critter. Cute rural town. Lee and his wife Evelyn - played by Krasinski's actual wife, Emily Blunt - cheering on their son Marcus, as he's batting in a Little League game. Their daughter Regan, who is deaf, also in the bleachers, as something really big - an asteroid, maybe? - flames across the sky, leaving a trail of dark smoke.

(SOUNDBITE OF AMBIENT THUD)

MONDELLO: The bleachers empty. Lee and Evelyn head for separate vehicles with the kids. But before they even get off the block...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "A QUIET PLACE PART II")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #4: (As character) What is happening?

(SOUNDBITE OF CRASH AND SCREAM)

MONDELLO: ...Absolute chaos - spiderlike things with pointy metal piercing legs crushing cars.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "A QUIET PLACE PART II")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #4: (As character) Oh, my God.

(SOUNDBITE OF CAR HORN)

MONDELLO: A bus with a hole in the windshield where the driver should be - just one continuous, really well-choreographed shot, which is in the trailer, more or less intact, and already we've seen many more people and about as much of the critters as we did in all of "A Quiet Place" part one. The success of that low-budget smash got director Krasinski the finances to do a lot more this time. "Part II" is still a chamber piece - the other people are mostly gone once he's picked up the story where the first movie left off, but the critters sure aren't.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "A QUIET PLACE PART II")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #4: (As character) Run.

MONDELLO: Evelyn, Regan, Marcus and the world's calmest infant have headed out from the relative safety of their farm to find other survivors, a mission that will put them in harm's way pretty much constantly over the next 90 minutes. They will separate for reasons I'll leave you to discover. And because Krasinski's script tends to put them in peril in different locations at precisely the same second, there is a lot of snappily complicated editing this time.

(SOUNDBITE OF DRAMATIC THUD)

MONDELLO: There are also a lot of little visual - I'd normally call them shout-outs, but with this movie you don't shout anything - let's call them whisper-outs to the earlier film - that space shuttle toy, the nail sticking up from a step in the basement, the hearing aid the dad was crafting for Regan. That first movie focused on the lengths Mom and Dad went to to protect the family. Turns out the Abbott kids, terrified Noah Jupe and steely actress Millicent Simmonds - who is herself deaf - were quick studies. Good thing; they had to be.

(SOUNDBITE OF CREATURE BREATHING)

MONDELLO: Hard to do exposition if you can't talk, so the visuals do the work and the silence - that means the film is going to play best with a stellar sound system and utter darkness, perhaps pierced by screams, which is to say, in a theater. Like the Abbott family, for "A Quiet Place Part II," the audience will have to venture out and brave the world we've all been hiding from for more than a year.

I'm Bob Mondello.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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