I hate having to say the expected thing.
The Two Jakes is an unworthy sequel to Chinatown and a poor imitation of Raymond Chandler.
I said the expected thing. It also happens to be true.
Dissing sequels is a common film-buff pastime, but I was genuinely looking forward to seeing Jakes, especially because it was written by Robert Towne, the author of Chinatown and The Yakuza, both released in 1974. It was a good year for him.
That Chinatown is one of the greatest films I’ve ever seen made it painful to watch Jakes and gain the knowledge that the second film is not only a poor sequel but a poor film. This despite boasting a supporting cast with Harvey Keitel, Madeleine Stowe and, my personal favorite of the bunch, the great Eli Wallach.
There may be a reason Jack Nicholson hasn’t directed a picture since this one. The cinematography is solid, but a lot more celluloid should have found its way to the editing room floor.
To go on may be merely adding insult to injury. But here goes. The film cheapens its predecessor’s legacy by refusing to let the Mulwray case lie. It stretches the bounds of credulity repeatedly. And, while proudly displaying an overly convoluted plot, at least its three largest “revelations” are obvious painful epochs before that git Gittes manages to unravel them. Except he doesn’t unravel them. He stumbles into them.
If you haven’t seen Chinatown, see it. If you have and you’re made of stern stuff, see Jakes. See it, then forget it.