Now You See Me 2 (2016)

nowyouseeme2_2016_poster
  • Time: 115 min
  • Genre: Action | Comedy | Thriller
  • Director: Jon M. Chu
  • Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Morgan Freeman, Daniel Radcliffe, Michael Caine, Lizzy Caplan, Dave Franco

Storyline:

One year after outwitting the FBI and winning the public’s adulation with their Robin Hood-style magic spectacles, The Four Horsemen resurface for a comeback performance in hopes of exposing the unethical practices of a tech magnate. The man behind their vanishing act is none other than Walter Mabry, a tech prodigy who threatens the Horsemen into pulling off their most impossible heist yet. Their only hope is to perform one last unprecedented stunt to clear their names and reveal the mastermind behind it all.

2 reviews

  • Last we left the Four Horsemen, a group of magicians assembled by a mysterious benefactor called the Eye to expose malfeasant corporations, they had bilked insurance magnate Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine) out of millions of dollars and given the money to the Hurricane Katrina victims whose insurance claims had been denied by Tressler’s company, and framed magic debunker Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman) for their latest crime of stealing cash from a safe.

    Eighteen months later, Thaddeus is still in jail and intoning via voiceover that the Horsemen “will get what’s coming to you in ways you won’t expect, but are deserved.” The Horsemen are still in hiding with some members getting disgruntled about waiting to hear word of the Eye’s latest missive – lone Horsewoman Henley’s out only to be replaced by the equally comely and plucky Lula May (Lizzy Caplan taking over for Isla Fisher, who had to bow out due to pregnancy), whilst Danny Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg) is chafing even more under the leadership of Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo), the FBI agent who also happens to be the Fifth Horseman. Sleight-of-hander Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) is getting pretty unhappy having to be behind the scenes (a consequence of his faking his death in the original film), but seems content to improve his card-throwing skills and pal around with hypnotist Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson).

    The Horsemen are finally brought out of hiding to disrupt a young tech CEO’s New York launch and turn it into a confessional on how he’s stealing his users’ private data. Yet their comeback is hijacked by an anonymous showman, who reveals to the public that the Horsemen, purported purveyors of truth, are nothing but liars – Jack’s alive and Dylan’s FBI. Mayhem erupts – Dylan hightails it to their meeting place whilst the rest flee to the rooftops, slide down their escape tube only to find themselves landing in…Macau, the Vegas of China. The Horsemen are puzzled at how this could have happened, and even more surprised when they’re brought before the smug and sociopathic man-boy Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe), who directs them to steal a master computer chip that can de-crypt any computer program known to man. Meanwhile, Thaddeus convinces Dylan to break him out of prison in exchange for helping Dylan find his cohorts.

    On the one hand, Now You See Me 2 more wholeheartedly embraces and acknowledges the inherent ridiculousness of the first film. On the other, it’s a far too visually and aurally cacophonous affair. It’s as if each frame is trying to one-up the other by being busier, flashier, and noisier but instead of masking and detracting from the film’s deficiencies, it only enhances and lays them bare. Conversely, a scene such as the brawl in the Taipa market is undermined – with the adrenalised ADHD editing, it’s often hard to appreciate the stunt choreography much less discern what’s going on. As with the first film, the sequel soars when unreservedly focused on the Horsemen’s acts of hocus pocus. Director Jon M. Chu stages a nifty set piece wherein the Horsemen enter a hermetically sealed and heavily guarded lab, steal the computer chip, affix it to a playing card, and fling around the card from one person to the other as they’re searched by guards. The blend of comedy, suspense, and sheer bravado is beautifully balanced and one of the few instances where the film settles into a purely entertaining groove.

    Otherwise, screenwriter Ed Solomon tests the audience’s patience with expanded palaver on the lifelong vendetta Dylan has wielded on Thaddeus, whom he believes was responsible for his father’s death during a magic act gone terribly awry, along with Tressler’s renewed interest in taking down the Horsemen. As pleasurable as it is to watch Ruffalo (charmingly rumpled) and Freeman (whose smallest gesture, such as flicking away the shadow of someone’s touch from his suit, delights), they’re basically knitting scarves out of tea cosies. Caine returns, but seems grumpy at having to be there; Radcliffe, on the other hand, is obviously having a grand old time, but the character grates too quickly. The same goes for Harrelson, who pulls double duty as Merritt’s curly-haired evil twin, who reaches extreme levels of irritation within minutes of his appearance.

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  • Magic movies are fun. They are responsible for some of my favourite movies of all time. ‘The Prestige’, ‘The Illusionist’ and the original ‘Now You See Me’ all come instantly to mind, and now I can add ‘Now You See Me 2’ to that list, because it is a very impressive sequel. The series has a very similar feel to the ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ trilogy, and we all know how the second installment of that series turned – not well. They made the mistake of making things too complicated for the average movie-goer to understand and just sit back and enjoy. ‘Now You See Me 2’ does a great job of keeping things intricate and twisted, while always keeping the audience in on the joke (and trick).

    There’s the return of all the main stars (minus Isla Fisher who couldn’t return due to her pregnancy) and the inclusion of some new ones who fit in seamlessly. In fact, I thought Lizzy Caplan was even more suited to the role of a magician than Fisher was, she did an excellent job as the newest Horseman. Daniel Radcliffe (yes the same one who found fame in another certain magic themed series) also joins the cast. His acting always comes across quite clunky to me, and I felt his performance worked more due to his star-power than actual acting chops.

    All the fun from the original is there. Everything you think you know, you should reconsider. There are twists and turns around every corner and the 129 minute run time flies by. Is there enough here for a third installment? I see no reason why not. The world of magic leads to infinite possibilities, and this cast is strong enough to carry a story and keep things fresh and fun. Personally I hope they do return again based on this fine effort.

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