Completely missed opportunity to be named the more interesting Now You Don’t, as opposed to the uninspired Now You See Me 2. It has been one year since the Four Horsemen have been seen last in public. It’s been so long that one member, Henley Reeves, has left the group and “The Eye” entirely. Now left are Danny Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson), Jack Wilder (Dave Franco), and new Horsewoman Lula May (Lizzy Caplan).
The foursome are still being pursued/overseen by FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo), and await their next mission, which involves exposing a tech CEO and his practices. Unfortunately, all goes to hell, and the group find all of their secrets exposed. But by who? Enter Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe), rich businessman who wants a powerful piece of technology to remain unseen. The Horseman have no choice: Pull off the job, or die.
In the first movie, it was Morgan Freeman’s character who mentioned that the audience should “Look closely, because the closer you think you are, the less you’ll actually see.” That only works if there is something worth looking closely at. Now You See Me 2 is not really one of those things.
In a way, NYSM2, in the opinion of yours truly, kind of comes to the fight with one arm tied behind its back, due to the failures of the final act in the first. I was ready to put those failures behind completely behind me, as I did have a little fun with the first, and I sort of did due to the simple fact I paid to see the sequel. Problem is, doesn’t take long to bring those story fails back to the forefront, and the movie never really gets into a flow. It all amounts to a feature that is rather choppy, in both direction and storytelling, and the attempts at humor aren’t all that funny (how this is listed as a comedy on IMDB is beyond me).
With the heist aspect, movies like the Ocean’s trilogy and Fast Five have been mentioned when discussing Now You See Me 2. But, NYSM2 lacks the energy, fun factor, and functional stories that those movies had, and the twists are so overabundant and just as facepalm-inducing as before, if not more so. So much of the dialogue seems devoid of nothing. Sure, there are a few interesting sequences shot by Jon M. Chu (G.I. Joe: Retaliation), but many of the big scenes pale in comparison to the original’s and look cheaper, despite having a bigger budget. And the explanations for said big scenes? I guess they work enough. But another issue had as a whole with this production is this whole “science vs. magic” matter. It’s like the movie wants to be super-smart with how it pulls off these grand schemes by explaining what happens via conventionality. Cool, but what about the scenes where characters stop rainfall, or vanish into thin air or concrete? That is what needs to be explained.
Bigger budget means bigger cast. Most of the same faces return, and like before, they really aren’t more than followers with little to no character arcs. As the new addition to the magician stable, Lizzy Caplan fits in nicely. Of the four, Harrelson stands out the most in sort of a goofy performance. Issue had is how the writing paints them to be the heroes, almost to a cringy level. For my money, this is a villain versus villain (versus villain) story. Radcliffe is the spoiled pompous youngster who has a tie to a past character, Freeman still serves as the story’s de facto narrator, and Ruffalo plays both sides. There’s no one to truly get behind, and the way threads wrap up with seemingly everything and everyone intertwined and closer than believed, it is hard to see how a third will be done without it feeling overpowered to one side. Yet, a third is all but certain.
Every magic trick is said to be broken down into three acts of a pledge, turn, and prestige, and it looks like the same can be said for this series. If Now You See Me is an average pledge, Now You See Me 2 is a pretty broken turn, with little extraordinary coming from the ordinary. Not much anticipation for the prestige.
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