Spider-Man: Far From Home pulls off an exciting, ambitious, if messy, superhero romp thanks to notable performances by Tom Holland & Jake Gyllenhaal.
Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures' Spider-Man: Far From Home must wear many hats within the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe. It occupies the unenviable first post-Avengers: Endgame spot on the franchise's release slate, and has been touted as the final chapter in Phase 3, meaning it needs to offer audiences a compelling coda to the Infinity Saga while paving the way for what's next. But Far From Home must also continue the story of the young superhero after his first solo movie, 2017's Spider-Man: Homecoming, though his journey was interrupted by the events of Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame. In addition to all that, Far From Home must stand on its own. Spider-Man: Far From Home pulls off an exciting, ambitious, if messy, superhero romp thanks to notable performances by Tom Holland & Jake Gyllenhaal.
Spider-Man: Far From Home picks up after the events of Avengers: Endgame, but examines the larger ramifications through the specific lens of Spider-Man's corner of the world. As such, the movie focuses in on Peter Parker (Holland) wanting to take a break from superhero antics to enjoy his summer vacation in Europe with his best friend, Ned (Jacob Batalon), and tell the girl he likes - MJ (Zendaya) - how he feels about her. All of Peter's plans are derailed, though, when he's approached by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) to help Quentin Beck aka. Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) fight the Elementals and save the world. All the while, Peter wrestles with the idea of stepping up to fill the void left by Tony Stark/Iron Man's death, and he must decide - once again - what kind of superhero he wants to be.
The theme of Peter figuring out his superhero identity carries over from Spider-Man: Homecoming, though Far From Home - which sees Jon Watts return as director - adds extra outside factors to the mix with Iron Man's death and Mysterio. It does sometimes come across as Spider-Man: Far From Home treading too much of the same path as Homecoming, with the script by Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers failing to tie up the character arc quite as neatly. Instead, those character beats get a little lost in everything else the film is trying to accomplish, particularly Mysterio's storyline and the action set pieces. Still, it is a logical next step for the MCU's Spider-Man to wrangle with his identity in a world that was veritably filled with superheroes only to realize he now may be Earth's last hope. Plus, the other aspects of Spider-Man: Far From Home are compelling enough to forgive the movie for not quite nailing how it explores this theme of superhero identity.
Mysterio, for example, both reinforces and distracts from Spider-Man: Far From Home's themes of superhero identity as a compelling foil to Peter Parker. The execution of Mysterio's storyline in the movie is imperfect, but largely works thanks to Gyllenhaal's performance, which is pitch perfect to this Spider-Man franchise and truly entertaining as hell to watch. Gyllenhaal is a good onscreen match for Holland, carrying the gravitas and charisma of a mentor to the younger actor's superhero. Meanwhile, Holland continues to bring an incredibly likable charm to Peter Parker, once again nailing the awkward teenager with the weight of the world on his shoulders. Holland and Zendaya's budding teen romance authentically maintains the high school feel of the characters, and Holland is backed up by a solid returning cast from Homecoming and new additions like Jackson's Fury, with much of the film's comedic beats falling to - of all people - Martin Starr as Peter's teacher, Mr. Harrington, as well as Batalon's Ned. But make no mistake, this is Holland's movie as Spider-Man and, to a lesser extent, Gyllenhaal's as Mysterio - and they pull it off spectacularly.
Overall, Spider-Man: Far From Home is a blast, though it does take some time to really get going. The first chunk of the movie rests on the shoulders of Holland and his co-stars who play his classmates to carry off a not-at-all exciting start to their trip - not to mention, a super-quick explanation of the new status quo in the MCU after Avengers: Endgame (though confusion among casual moviegoers is still inevitable). Then the second and third acts of Far From Home push the limits of what's expected not just in a Spider-Man movie, but superhero movies in general, getting ambitious with its storytelling and action set pieces and (mostly) sticking the landing. Spider-Man: Far From Home isn't as sharp or tightly written as Spider-Man: Homecoming, but the sequel more than makes up for it with sheer spectacle and MCU connections, and smartly knows when Holland or Gyllenhaal can carry a scene on their own. It's exactly the kind of exciting moviegoing experience fans want from the MCU - but maybe don't always get.
As such, Spider-Man: Far From Home is a must-see for MCU fans, offering a different enough experience to the franchise's other 2019 movies - Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame - to stand apart. It's also able to hold its own as the first MCU movie following the epic Endgame, largely thanks to focusing in on one of the franchise's newer and more compelling lead characters. Further, Far From Home actually does work as a segue into what's next in this post-Avengers world, introducing some interesting threads that fans will be excited to see explored in future movies. One of Homecoming's biggest strengths was being able to balance a character-focused story that acknowledges the larger universe in which it's set, and Far From Home again nails that balance. Still, while Spider-Man: Far From Home is a great superhero movie on its own, viewers may be more excited by what comes next - both for Peter Parker and the larger MCU.
Spider-Man: Far From Home is now playing in U.S. theaters. It is 129 minutes long and rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence, some language and brief suggestive comments.
Let us know what you thought of the film in the comments section!
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019