In a world where increasingly loud political factions call for the dismantling of the nuclear family, “A Quiet Place Part II” establishes that the strength of a father’s presence can transcend death, and makes way for two strong female protagonists, the mother, Evelyn Abbott, and her daughter Regan.
WARNING: Major Spoilers Ahead
In the film’s predecessor, A Quiet Place, we enter the Abbott family’s world: one in which most of the human population has been eradicated by strange alien creatures that hunt primarily by sound. The father, Lee (John Krasinski), works tirelessly to ensure the survival of his family, while his wife, Evelyn (Emily Blunt), goes above and beyond in caring for her children.
As Lee tinkers in the basement, trying to find means to survive and beat the creatures, Evelyn continues to maintain some semblance of normalcy for her children. She cooks, cleans, maintains the home, and homeschools them. Even when the world has gone to hell, she maintains composure and aids in the betterment and well-roundedness of her children — and in turn, with any hope, the betterment of the world.
In addition to all that, when she becomes pregnant she doesn’t seek to have an abortion via do-it-yourself means, or by inducing a miscarriage. In a world where a crying baby is the last thing that’s conducive to survival, she carries her baby to term and finds a way forward. In our real-life modern world where having an abortion is now a laughing matter, and where abortion activists have gone from wanting it to be “safe, legal, and rare” to normalizing it, and now celebrating it, seeing what Evelyn does is beyond brave, but admirable.
Initially, director John Krasinski had no plans for a sequel to A Quiet Place, and the sequel was developed only after the right story came along. That certainly is obvious in A Quiet Place Part II with a tremendous, unique story that’s very much not just a cash-grab sequel, but provides a refreshing take on the importance of fathers and their influence, and the different kinds of feminine strength.
The Transcendence of a Father’s Influence
One of the struggles highlighted in A Quiet Place is that of the family’s deaf daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds) dealing with blaming herself for her younger brother Beau’s death, believing that because of the incident her father Lee no longer loves her. At the end of the movie, Lee sacrifices himself for his family, signing to Regan that he loves her, and always has, right before shouting to divert the attention of a creature away from his family and towards himself, sacrificing his life to save his children's.
The sequel picks up at the end of the events of the first movie, and we follow the remaining family — mother Evelyn, Regan, younger brother Marcus, and new baby brother (who’s being transported in some cushioned, sound-proofed luggage equipped with an oxygen tank) as they leave the farm in search of a new home. They find an abandoned steel factory armed with traps, which they come to realize is being occupied by Lee’s old friend Emmett (Cillian Murphy), who is plagued by hopelessness.
He can’t take in the family: there’s not enough food, water, or resources to go around. As they tend to Marcus’ severe injuries which were inflicted by a trap set just outside the factory, Regan puts some headphones on him, where they encounter a radio station playing “Beyond the Sea.” Suddenly there’s new hope — hope that there are still people around who are able to survive and thrive to the point of being able to maintain a radio station.
Emmett rebukes this hope, saying that the station only plays the same song over and over and that the search for other people is futile since those who remain are not the kinds of people worth saving. Regan angrily signs at Emmett, that he’s nothing like her father, that her father would pursue this hope. Later that night, Regan signs to Marcus that she believes the song on the station is not just a song, but a signal, given the nature of the lyrics and where the station is, and that she’s going to investigate and search for other survivors.
This establishes a new protagonist — Regan Abbott, who is without a doubt her father’s daughter. While Lee isn’t alive in this movie, Regan picks up his mantle and continues the fight for her family’s survival, seeking to put herself on the line if that means keeping her and her family safe. While Evelyn has consistently embodied strength in traditional femininity and a lioness approach when it comes to defending and caring for her children, Regan embodies a different kind of strength — that of the young adventurer, going out for her family’s sake out of necessity, in spite of her youth or former role in the family. Although Regan’s father is no longer around, his presence in her heart and in what he taught her lives on.
The New Female Protagonists
The story’s premise establishes itself as a film surrounding two objectives — Emmett getting Regan back safely at the request of Evelyn, and Regan’s search for the radio station and more survivors. The two are heavily intertwined, and introduce another subplot — while Emmett is away, Evelyn is left alone to care for an injured Marcus and her newborn baby.
When Evelyn leaves the factory to get supplies for Marcus and the baby, Evelyn leaves her wedding band atop her late son Beau’s memorial — marking her independence in caring for her children. Lee is no longer with them, so she needs to be stronger for her family. This scene is interwoven with scenes of Regan and Emmett, which compares and contrasts the progress and advancement of the characters while they’re split at two different fronts.
While the story focuses on Evelyn and Regan, it’s not at the expense of their femininity. With Evelyn, it’s a duality. While she's a mother, through and through, and has maintained her care and nurture for her family in a dangerous world, she's also a force to be reckoned with. In one scene, she’s battling a creature on her own; not by wielding some massive Gatling gun or exhibiting some formerly unknown superhuman strength or Deadshot abilities, but by being clever and resourceful. Her strength and deadliness isn’t out of character at all; it’s as realistic as it is inspiring.
Meanwhile, Regan is no Mary Sue either. She's saved several times by Emmett, just as he is saved by her — both in the physical sense as well as the metaphorical. He begins the movie, plagued by hopelessness and the belief that there’s nowhere in the world they can go to. Throughout, his will to fight is restored in the times that he has to save Regan, and as their adventure develops his hope in the world, and in there being other survivors who maintained their humanity, is restored. When they first speak, Regan holds Emmett’s face up and tells him to enunciate — as she physically lifts his head up, she also lifts up his spirits. Without Regan’s resourcefulness, determination, and hope, they would have all been doomed.
A Quiet Place Part II picks up immediately where the first left off, and loses none of the momentum or dread that its predecessor had. It tackles a number of different themes beautifully and is perhaps one of the best modern examples of strong female protagonists — fitting in both the traditional maternal figure, as well as a younger role-model, akin to the role of Frodo from Lord of the Rings, or Link in The Legend of Zelda franchise.
While the two main female protagonists of the film are inspiring and brave in their own rights, the story is built upon the legacy a father left, which in turn continues to improve even the most dreadful post-apocalyptic world.
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