WowMIKEWow’s review published on Letterboxd:
Wow. I was NOT into that for the first half. I was writing the review in my head, in between the boredom: "It's got charm, and the acting is mostly fine, but Jake Gyllenhaal is weirdly miscast, and the whole thing is just baseline Marvel entertainment we've seen before..." But then something weird happened; the SECOND HALF of the movie is BETTER THAN THE FIRST HALF. Has that ever happened in a Marvel film before? I mean, the finale of The Avengers was the best part of that movie...I guess it's happened before. But this deserves a second mention; the second half of this movie is fucking fantastic, and more than redeems the first half. This is one of the best finales to a Marvel film I've ever seen, with one of the best central emotional dynamics, and a fantastic villain.
Taking place in a post-snap world, the story follows Peter Parker on a science field trip around the world. He's learned his lesson about sticking close to the ground from Homecoming, and for this field trip he just wants to have a normal time, and maybe, just maybe, see what happens with MJ. But typical Parker luck strikes, and soon he's getting roped into a mission by Nick Fury himself, and teaming up with a mysterious figure played by Jake Gyllenhaal who totally isn't a bad guy what are you taking about-
Yeah, yeah, it's an obvious twist; what, Mysterio is a bad guy? Even if you're not a comic reader, that's just a gimme. And I'll be honest, I was NOT impressed with Gyllenhaal pre-reveal. It's not a "bad" performance, exactly, but it's one that doesn't fit; he was giving an indie film performance in a big-budget blockbuster movie. But as soon as he turns - LITERALLY as soon as he turns - he comes to fucking life. He gets that wonderful Jake Gyllenhaal spark in his eyes, and he fully becomes someone who belongs in this cinematic universe. He goes from a not-very-good Jake Gyllenhaal performance - and I'm saying that as someone who loves basically everything he's ever done, and think he's possibly the best actor working today - into one of the outright best MCU villains ever.
I don't want to say too much more, because this is recent and all, and it's still settling in my brain. I'll just say that while there are a lot of great jokes all throughout the film, there are a couple of not-very-well-executed tonal shifts in the beginning, and some bad editing and scene transitions. It feels like it's going through the motions, getting through the setup as fast as possible in order to get to the fireworks factory.
But what fireworks factory. I am fully aware I am judging this higher than is possibly deserves on account of a great finale. But fuck it, you know? Movies are by definition an emotional experience, and right now I'm on an emotional high. Peter and MJ have some fantastic moments, and their relationship goes in a wonderful direction, COMPLETELY the opposite of where I feared it was headed. Jake Gyllenhaal kills it in this movie. The action in the finale is some fantastically edited, engaging shit, FULLY taking advantage of a hero who web-slings. I FELT like I was flying through the air with Spider-Man, and that is a wonderful, wonderful feeling.