Now You See Me 2: New Film, Same Show
Daniel RadcliffeDave Franco...
Action & AdventureComedy
Jon M. Chu
In 1 Cinema
Despite a handful of visually entertaining moments, Now You See Me 2 is a largely disappointing sequel. Those that weren’t exactly won over by the first movie definitely won’t be swayed into enjoying the follow-up, which ends up resting on a seen-it-all-before premise whilst delivering flimsy execution of magic with very little flair or freshness.
Picking up about a year after their last major magic stunt which ended up outsmarting the FBI and putting rival and local debunker Bradley (Freeman) safely behind bars, The Four Horseman – members including J. Daniel Atlas (Eisenberg), Merritt McKinney (Harrelson) and Jack Wilder (Franco) – have now gone underground, busy keeping a low profile whilst waiting for their next big mission from The Eye.
It’s not long before the group is once again put to work when FBI agent Rhodes (Ruffalo) receives word that a major telecommunication company has been stealing and selling personal information and now hopes that the group – including newcomer Lula (Caplan) – can stage an appearance and expose their shady dealings to the public. However, their plan is soon foiled when they are magically transported to China, where the company’s mastermind (Radcliffe) decides to blackmail them into carrying out a heist of his own.
Directed by John M. Chu, Now You See Me 2 manages to embrace a bubbly spirit and a brisk pace from the very beginning, giving the movie that ‘brainless fun’ trait and a unique visual style which separates it from its predecessor. Unfortunately, though, while Chu’s efforts for trying to make sure that the action set pieces are slickly executed and generally engaging, there is a certain lack of substance and very little connection to the story as a whole, making all of its flashiness and visual grandness just surface-based. The main problem comes in the form of the over-explanations which lay behind the story’s every move, while the magic tricks – which are not performed on stage anymore but are executed through a series of heists – are rather routine and predictable.
With the slight exception of Harrelson and Ruffalo, who manage to keep their characters engaging throughout, most of the characters serve as nothing but meandering plot devices, as opposed to fully rendered characters who we, the audience, are supposed to connect to and care for. Even newcomer Daniel Radcliffe couldn’t muster up enough magic to create an impact.
Overall, fans of the first movie should find no problem enjoying the second round of flashy nonsense that Now You See Me 2 has to offer. As for everyone else, don’t expect much.