The director and actor, who was previously best known as Jim from NBC's The Office and one of the guys in Michael Bay's Benghazi movie, has made a movie that plays like a theme park ride. That distinction sounds like a negative criticism but it's not: In its most effective set-pieces, like a bathtub birth sequence involving star Emily Blunt and a gripping showdown in a grain silo, the movie recalls the visceral popcorn thrills of Steven Spielberg blockbusters like War of the Worlds and Jurassic Park. A week after Spielberg mined his own past for the video game riff Ready Player One, with often frustrating results, Krasinski has made a leaner, meaner take on the legendary filmmaker's favorite themes of parental anxiety and familial responsibility. It asks that classic Spielberg-ian question: How far will you go for the ones you love?
The ending of A Quiet Place, which centers around a busted pickup truck, is so rewarding because it rarely loses sight of that question. When Krasinski's Lee Abbott is presented with an opportunity to save his children, Regan and Marcus, from a monster that threatens to murder them, he unleashes a blood-curdling scream. It's primal, desperate, and, yes, a little goofy. His sacrifice arrives right after he signs to his hearing-impaired daughter Reagan that he loves her, erasing her fears that he didn't care about her because of the role she accidentally played in her younger brother's death, which opens the film. The final exchange between father and daughter is familiar, but it's also tremendously moving.
Similarly, the face-off between a shotgun-welding Blunt and the monster, which struggles against the feedback generated by Regan's cochlear implant, is textbook in its approach. The solution resembles an example in a screenwriting manual: Regan uses a microphone to amplify the feedback and causes the protective armor on the creature's head to open up. A slimy head explosion follows. They've found its weakness. The monsters are vulnerable now. The family hasn't exactly won the war for Earth -- after all, Krasinski is definitely dead, there's a new baby, and these kids will need a lot of therapy -- but it's a small human victory. In movies like this, those matter the most.