This movie has a new director in Roger Kumble along with a change in screenplay, as it is co-written by Todd herself. The film stars Hero Fiennes Tiffin as Hardin Scott and Josephine Langford as Tessa Young, an estranged couple attempting to rekindle the romance that was ruined by the outcome of the first film.
The cast of this film does a decent job with what they have in terms of a script, which as a viewer doesn’t seem like much. As someone who has read the book series in its entirety, it is clear that in the 107 minutes that the writers were given for this film, the main goal was to just cram in as much from the book as possible. This makes the scenes that are supposed to be impactful for the viewer unfortunately hollow, and without the emotional punch needed to build real characters.
One of the performances throughout the film that sticks out the most comes from Dylan Sprouse as he embodies the new character Trevor, a coworker of Tessa and eventual love triangle member with a quick wit and awkwardly adorable charm. Sprouse nails this character on the head and creates a lasting impression that leaves excitement to see his story continued in the next film.
The rest of the casts’ performances teeter toward lackluster and only suffer more because of the jumbled and poorly timed script. While the first film was far from perfect, it at least managed to build lasting and believable chemistry between its characters, something that seems to have been ignored in the sequel.
One successful note does come from Hardin Scott himself however, as it seems Tiffin really stepped up and engulfed himself in some of the more gravitating and emotional scenes in this film, allowing the audience to see and connect the effects of Hardin’s painful and haunting past and why he acts the frustrating way he does.
Unlike its predecessor, this film was able to obtain an R-rating rather than PG-13, allowing the writers to delve in and focus more on its Wattpad fanfiction origins and thus investing far more into graphic and adult scenarios. Oftentimes intimately sexual scenes in a romance film can help showcase passion and love between characters, but in this case these scenes are seemingly meaningless. As the audience, we are supposed to find the sexual scenes between Hardin and Tessa alluring, but they are giggle-worthily awkward and out of place in the story. More ’Fifty Shades of Gray’-esque than that of the loving and tender scene in ’The Fault in Our Stars’ to compare to some modern love stories.
Behind the camera isn’t much better as the editing and cinematography is clumsy at times, clearly having mistakes and audio issues resulting in obvious redubs of lines, microphones in shots, and camera flashes from set photographers visible to the audience. Coupled with the very unloving and aggressive angles in the sex scenes, this sadly makes the intimate moments that Tessa and Hardin do share feel less like two people in a close relationship sharing physical love and more like something that was needed for the film to hold the audience’s attention.
The stronger aspects of cinematography and direction come in the quiet sequences, like Tessa speaking to Hardin’s mother about his past, or, my personal favorite scene in the whole film, when Tessa and Hardin get into the back of an Uber together and we see them truly act as if they love and care for each other in a very real way thanks to the tender camera work and warm sensitive lighting of the scene. Reminiscent of an opposite day version at the end of ’The Graduate.’
Overall, ”After We Collided” suffered from its attempt to be more adult and in turn lost a majority of the innocent love story that blossomed in the first film. In this film there were of course sweet moments, and moments where jokes landed and scenes made logical progression, but what could have been a natural step for the characters seemed to haphazardly turn into a “sex sells” situation above all else. I will of course watch the next two sequels as I love the book series, but I hope that the writers can learn from the mistakes of this film. I give "After We Collided" a C grade.