Monday, 9 June 2014

22 Jump Street

Let's hope Jump Street is a very long street. 

After the success working at 21 Jump Street, Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) continue working as street cops for their town. However, after they blow an important task, there are sent back to perform a similar mission, thus time at 22 Jump Street. Under the order of Captain Dickson (Ice Cube), Schmidt and Jenko take on their alter egos once more and head in to college, to solve yet another drug problem.

21 Jump Street was a near faultless success. Boasting the fantastic chemistry of Hill and Tatum, a solid script packed with humour and a healthy dose of well orchestrated action, it wound up as one of those films you cannot help but like. And now, here we have a comedy sequel. Comedy sequels are tricky, most tend to rely heavily on the jokes of their predecessors and ultimately very rarely surpass or match that original quality. 22 Jump Street partially fits this, but in its own unique way. It's an almost identical film to its predecessor, but it's self-referential enough to forgive this. It's not as funny as the original, and considerably less heartfelt, but the action is pumped up enough and Hill & Tatum still make for such a reliably fun double act that this sequel is an undeniable blast.

Copying the original exactly very rarely works, but here they almost get away with it. Almost. There are some refreshing little twists at the end that will put a smile on your face, and this film's final act is by far its strongest. But by sticking so closely to the first film, we lose this wild sense of unpredictability that the original so crucially used. Sure, they're aware they're doing this, it's clearly an intentional move by directors Lord & Miller, but it also means you can predict the entire first 80 minutes before you even finish act one. It also makes it exceedingly difficult to avoid comparisons; where the original had the highway chase with Hill and Tatum dressed as Peter Pan and some molecules, the high speed pursuit here feels laboured in comparison. Viewed on its own, this wouldn't be a problem. In fact, if you saw this before the original you'd probably enjoy the sequel more. But relying on the original so much, even if fully intentional, just makes you realise that this one isn't quite as good.

But, thankfully, that's about all that's wrong with this film. 22 Jump Street's fundamental flaw is that it is a weaker film than its original, but in no way whatsoever is it a poor film in its own right. Both Hill and Tatum are terrific here; in fact their performances are one of very few things that do improve on the original. Their characters feel more assured and more defined this time around. They've grown up before going to college, but not enough to remove the brilliant sense of fun present in both Jump Street films. This film's final act relies almost entirely on action, as opposed to a more evenly matched action-comedy blend, but it feels right. That's not to say this film is without its laughs; Captain Dickson is reliably harsh, yet consistently entertaining. But, this film's biggest surprise lies with the fact that Tatum is funnier here than Hill, a fact I don't think anyone really predicted. His reaction after he comes to a certain realisation about Captain Dickson's daughter is brilliantly acted, drawing the film's biggest laugh by a clear mile. Oh, and the ending credits montage is possibly the funniest credits scene you'll see all year.

22 Jump Street is great fun. Comedy sequels are reliably weaker than their respective originals, but this manages to avoid that category. Perhaps if they steered away from the original a bit more, this could have been elevated even higher. I get that it was an intentional move, and it was refreshing to see this employed so heavily, but it makes the first two acts feel longer than they should. The original film felt about an hour long, it never once even nears a dull patch. But when we can predict exactly what's about to happen this time around, what could have ended up as an enjoyably silly scene feels more like a boring rehash of events that have already taken place. 22 Jump Street works brilliantly, though, even if it works more as a standalone film than a sequel. Still, if they're up for it, I'm more than on board to head down Jump Street to No.23.

To Summarise: Building seamlessly on the original's refreshingly unique approach to the buddy-cop genre, 22 Jump Street is supremely funny, action-packed comedy boasting fantastic performances from Tatum and Hill.

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