Having experienced three movies (A Quiet Place Part 2, Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard and, Fast and Furious 9) recently through the welcome return to the experience of the cinema, the industry is easily tempted by the allure of the sequel and creation of the franchise, but not always to the most attractive results.
Like with any new music group that gains fame on the big stage with their first album, the follow-up album is closely scrutinised against the high standards of the first, and usually underwhelming. In quick succession our local cineplex hosted A Quiet Place Part 2, The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, and, Fast and Furious 9 (also known as F9.) The first two are sequels following up successful new movies with the Fast and Furious franchise soldiering on regardless.
A Quiet Place Part 2 is an unintended sequel to A Quiet Place. The latter came out at the beginning of the pandemic, and the sequel released as we came out of lockdown. Part One was an unqualified success, turning cinema upside down with the horror focused on the silence not the noise. It was the first of a number of movies carefully and successfully embedding a deaf person into the heart of the story.
A Quiet Place deserves to be experienced in the cinema. Its film score seeps into the veins with the sense of apocalyptic dread. A sequel would always be a hard act to follow. After the barn stormer of a prelude at the beginning of the movie, Part 2 focuses on the two children. Although it has an oxygen sucking ending I felt it lacked the focus on the original – the monsters were more visible, the interludes focusing on bare feet walking from here to there led to me dropping out of the movie. A redeeming feature is that it has depth and will lure the movie goer back for a second viewing.
The hitman’s Bodyguard is four years’ old and was a hit with the audience for its excoriating wit and comic book violence but not with critics who found it cliched. A popcorn movie on Netflix for the lockdown era its plot managed to hold together on the chaotic road journey to Amsterdam. Ryan Reynolds with his “boring is best”, alongside Samuel L Jackson with his “my shit and your shit” proved an entertaining couple to watch arguing their way through the movie.
Sadly, the sequel fell short of its original. The sequel lacked subtlety with the argument descending into shouting, the action scenes descending into numb car crashes. The trips around Europe I simply found lacking reason. The gags just stopped flowing. As with the original the audience enjoyed it more than the critics who didn’t. Still, giving Selma Hayak a more prominent role was a sharp move.
After watching Fast and Furious 7 and 8 with its ridiculous stunts in Dubai, and the sad loss of Paul Walker I both enjoyed the action and wondered, like with 007, where do they go next? These movies are shameless in their zooming cars, crashing objects (submarine anyone?) and emphasis on family. Just keep repeating the style around the world and up the stakes to saving the world.
F9 again tries to save the world but firstly it mines its own past with Vin Diesel’s character, Dom, this time taking on his own brother. The crew save the world by going to space. Cars crashing from sky scraper to another I can suspend my disbelief to enjoy, but in space? It was amateurishly executed and I stopped playing along with the game. The regular flash backs to Dom’s past gave me a sense of the franchise beginning to run out of ideas. There are welcome returns of characters and set piece moments that will keep the Fast and Furious happy.
The two sequels both showed the allure of cashing in on their originals. but they both suffered from a meandering plot, and would have benefited from a further rewrite of the script. F9 begs the question where the franchise can go without the Rock and Jason Statham (who pops up in the credits0. It needs attention between the stupendous set piece scenes.
This is the moment when cinema goers gradually return back to the big screen and enjoy the experience a genuine full movie can bring through a gripping plot, tightly written script and engaging film score. My experience in June 2021 left me asking for more polished movies. Will the Avengers’ universe or 007 fill that role?