The latest addition to the Marvel Universe (and the first sequel to 2017’s runaway smash “Spider-Man: Homecoming”) isn’t as entertaining and engaging as its predecessor, although in the end, it gets the job done. Tom Holland is still armed with mega-watt charisma that’s strong enough to carry a franchise, but it’s hard not to notice that his role is a little muted here. There’s less for him to do this time around other than deliver expository dialogue, but luckily Jake Gyllenhaal takes center stage in his lieu and walks away with the movie in the process: He’s got an entirely believable big brother vibe that serves the movie’s narrative extremely well, and as his character changes throughout the movie, Gyllenhaal manages to slip into a different type of role without losing any authenticity or sincerity. It takes about half the movie to set up a narrative arc so by the time the action gets under way, the movie’s almost over, which is a shame because the Marvel Universe has some of the best special effects and action sequences in modern cinema so the viewer almost feels cheated by its relative restraint.
Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)