Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) are back but this time they are going to college. In a special undercover operation, once again run by Captain Dickson (Ice Cube), the guys must locate the dealers and supplier of a deadly new designer drug that is threatening to spread across campuses around the country.
21 Jump Street, based on the classic 80’s Stephen J. Cannell TV series, was a brilliantly witty action-comedy that rarely pulled its punches. Full of laugh-out-loud moments and fantastic turns from lead duo Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill, it was easily one of the funniest films of 2012. So when plans for 22 Jump Street were announced, there were big concerns that they couldn’t replicate that success for a second outing. Thankfully, 22 Jump Street is an utter delight from start to finish and is a film that still manages to update the premise and keep things fresh.
Channing Tatum proves once again that he is one of the most versatile performers of his generation. Having gained attention in the original Step Up movie, Tatum has gone onto huge things including rom-coms, dramas and full-on blockbusters. So quite why Tatum never gets his dues in Hollywood is beyond me. Having proved he is comfortable in almost any genre, Tatum hands in yet another outstanding comedy turn and excels as the trigger-happy Jenko. He has some tear-inducingly funny lines and his misinterpretation of situations and vocabulary are just a joy to watch
Jonah Hill also hands in another brilliant performance as Schmidt. Hill is clearly relishing his career resurgence after a glittering awards-season for the actor, thanks to the success of The Wolf of Wall Street. Hill bounces off Channing Tatum effortlessly and the two make for a very organic comedy pairing. It’s their chemistry that makes 22 Jump Street so damn funny with both actors in-sync and on fire. Their banter feels genuine and fresh and their relationship takes on new dynamics throughout the film, which gives both Tatum and Hill great scope to have some fun.
The supporting cast all do well too. Amber Stevens makes for a nice love interest for Schmidt. The always excellent Peter Stormare can play the best bad guy in his sleep and he really enjoys the role of drug kingpin ‘The Ghost’. But it’s Ice Cube as Dickson, the stereotypical angry Police Captain, who raises the most supporting smiles – especially when Schmidt really angers him. Even Dave Franco and the severely underrated Rob Riggle show up from the first movie and feature in a very funny prison sequence. Deputy Chief Hardy (Schmidt and Jenko’s first boss) is also back to deliver another clever speech on the 22 Jump Street undercover programme, poking a knowing finger at Hollywood’s trend for rebooting old ideas and making bigger, sub-par sequels. Parks & Recreation’s Nick Offerman steals his cameo scenes here.
22 Jump Street has many memorable moments that all hit their chosen marks. Every scene with Jillian Bell as a student who constantly questions why Schmidt looks so old is just plain hilarious and the social commentary on today’s college kids and their interests are both surprising and genuinely astute. The action set-pieces all work well too including a great car chase involving very expensive obstacles, helicopter stunts, a daring frat house heist and a library shoot-out. Directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller return for the sequel and they know exactly how to shoot every aspect of this film. The action isn’t too frantic either – it makes such a welcome change to know exactly what you are watching onscreen rather than getting lost in an epileptic onslaught of editing (like every other film seems to do these days).
22 Jump Street defies the odds yet again and is a truly brilliant popcorn movie. It’s a continuously hilarious and genuinely entertaining comedy that’s hard not to love. Coupled with Tatum and Hill on sparkling form and a story that’s well written and implemented by Michael Bacall, Oren Uziel, Rodney Rothman and Jonah Hill, 22 Jump Street is outrageous, escapist fun that you can’t afford to miss. Stay for the end credits as there is a great running gag about where this franchise could go and there’s even a post-credit sequence that’s short but very, very funny. 22 Jump Street is easily the best action-comedy of the year.