The Two Jakes ★★

The Two Jakes sounds like a grand slam on paper but the film itself is a disappointment. A sequel to Chinatown with Nicholson back as the lead and Towne back as the screenwriter, The Two Jakes is a dispassionate and predictable mystery film. The film makes the colossal mistake of following the first film's narrative line as a continuation of it instead of driving off into new narrative territory. There are times during the film where it's almost as if the movie wants to but is stuck with the parking brake on. There are some inspired narrative strands and threads like the idea of corrupt oil men messing with the land and Nicholson's Gittes interacting with shady lawyers and criminals but the film doesn't really go anywhere with these ideas and it dubiously insists on revisiting the past movie. If The Two Jakes had the courage to be its own movie instead of reminding you how great Chinatown was, it would be a great film in its own right. Sadly, it isn't.