Although it would seem to be a fool's errand to even attempt following on from the classic Chinatown, Jack Nicholson steps up to direct himself, and Harvey Keitel, Madeleine Stowe, Meg Tilly, and more, in this impressive, although predictable, second cinematic adventure for detective Jake Gittes.
Difficult to grow under the wing of Chinatown, comparisons will always be drawn, and particularly if the plot, disjointed and superfluous, seems to go mercilessly forever. The reappearance of a plump mature Jake Gittes brings little gravitas and charisma. Same name, different actor, Nicholson is unrecognisable. A poor Noir with no edge, lacking a strong lead and asphyxiated by an overcomplicated and irrelevant plot.
3 1/2 out of 5 stars. While this is an admittedly unnecessary sequel to one of my favorite movies ever and almost completely languishes for nearly an hour, the final 15 minutes absolutely turns it around and the final scene (and line) blew me away. Amazing cast even if it the story leans too much on the original. I would've loved to have seen this in the hands of a more experienced director or even Polanski himself.
This Chinatown follow-up is a very detailed sequel to say the least as it attempts to eclipse its 1974 original. It is a decent movie and well worth a watch but sadly isn't a patch on Chinatown. Nicholson takes over from Polanski in Directing duties and does well with a fairly decent cast and the inclusion of Harvey Keitel helps the movie but don't try and watch it without seeing the original first. 7/10
It ties back to the earlier film and yes, the script by Robert Towne is extremely rich. The film itself is not altogether satisfying because while it's chock full of excellent scenes, it's missing a major element that every good mystery needs: a truly menacing adversary. While CHINATOWN concluded in the most catastrophic way, THE TWO JAKES essentially cops out at the end. Meg Tilly is the standout.
It's much like Godfather III in many respects. Much better than the consensus, released 16 years after the previous film, but unlike Godfather III it has a definite resonance and staying power. Nowhere near Chinatown's power-but then again it was never meant to replicate or be better than it's predecessor. There is a great sense of depth and loss here. The DVD is a great way to view this little flawed gem.