Tom Holland’s Spider-Man got his first solo outing with 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming, a good film with a strong villain, but one that fell short in nailing an engaging story the whole way through.
Now, Spider-Man finds himself ‘Far from Home’ as he’s sent around the world, with help from Jake Gyllenhaal’s Mysterio, to deal with an ‘elemental’ threat. Far from Home is a definitive step up from Homecoming with a stronger narrative, more emotion, and more thrilling action sequences.
Far from Home’s story kicks off shortly after where Avengers: Endgame (2019) left off, with the aftermath of the death of Tony Stark. Understanding the relationship between Spider-Man and Tony Stark that has been built over a couple of films, it makes sense that his death plays a major role in the central themes, emotions, and plot of this film. This is a story of growth for Peter Parker as he deals with some of the public pressure to be the one to fill the hole Tony Stark has left behind. I makes for great complexity and conflict that Peter has to overcome while at the same time being a superhero. They really nail the human element of being a superhero here just as they’ve done in previous MCU films.
Pacing-wise, the first hour is good but doesn’t feel like it’s ramping up to anything big. It doesn’t have a clear goal other than ‘defeat the bad guys’ and as a result is feels slightly long. I was invested in the characters and what they were going through in this first half but the story wasn’t carrying me through as I’d have hoped.
Where the first hour feels like a long hour, the last hour is straight up incredible, fast paced, and action packed right to the final moments. After the half-way point the tension finally begins to really ramp up and it powers through to the end. It’s odd though, usually when you’re enjoying something, an hour feels like 30 minutes, here however, the last hour felt like two and I loved every minute of it. This is where Far from Home is at its best with exciting web-slinging action sequences and some fantastic psychedelic visual effects that give Doctor Strange (2016) a run for its money.
When it comes to the performances, Tom Holland delivers his strongest performance yet as Spider-Man, bringing plenty of raw convincing emotion to the table. He really makes you feel for everything he’s going through, especially due to being a kid thrown into dangerous situations when he just wants to enjoy his private life. In terms of the humour, Holland shines as his sarcastic and witty personality works well to lighten up the tone of the film. All of the supporting characters including Happy (Jon Favreau), Ned (Jacob Batalon), Betty (Angourie Rice), and Mr Dell (J.B. Smoove) chime in with their own character-specific humour. Then you have Samuel L. Jackson just being the same old Nick Fury we know and love.
Zendaya really steps up in this film as MJ. She has a lot more to do in this story and her relationship with Holland’s Peter Parker is a lot more fleshed out. The snarky, attitude-driven character really works for her and she plays it really well sharing plenty of great moments alongside Holland. Jake Gyllenhaal is a masterclass, there’s no doubt about that, and he is fantastic in here as the one of the heroes, Mysterio. It’s odd thinking about seeing Gyllenhaal in a superhero film as I never imagined there’d be a character I could see him play. However, after seeing it, Mysterio is clearly that character as Gyllenhaal does an amazing job selling us on the master of illusion. He’s a complex character with a difficult past, one that plays into the story and makes a lasting impact.
Spider-Man: Far from Home delivers a thrilling sequel to Homecoming which goes bigger and better than its predecessor. I touched on this earlier, but the visuals are stunning. All of the fast-moving action sequences are incredible to watch and flow seamlessly. The first half feels a little long but it’s still enjoyable, there really isn’t much not to love about this film. Tom Holland and Jake Gyllenhaal side by side are fantastic and watching the two of them act on screen is enough reason to check this one out. It leave me heavily looking forward to the future of the Spider-Man franchise and his expanding presence in the MCU.