Now You See Me 2 is simply more of the same from the mystical and often-inexplicable Horsemen and that’s not all good. The chemistry, laughs and ensemble are as enjoyable as they were in the first but the film is still a sloppy mess.
In the sequel to the surprise 2013 hit, the Four Horsemen are forced into stealing something because a magical billionaire (Daniel Radcliffe) wants to do something with the something the Horsemen have been tasked with stealing. Oh, and Morgan Freeman is in their for something.
My rather flippant tone when describing the plot of Now You See Me 2 should be an indication of the writing and the narrative in this film. My biggest complaint about Now You See Me was that it grabbed my attention with a small street-level magical opening but then drowned in a visual effects frenzy that became more and more absurd by the minute. Now You See Me 2 doesn’t even bother starting small; it starts big and gets bigger and bigger but this time it seems that logic and narrative was forced in the writer’s threw together a trick.
There is a sequence in which the Four Horsemen throw around a playing card, that just so happens to be the very important something Radcliffe’s bad-boy magician wants, over and over again. The problem is, by the time the sequence finishes, it becomes apparent that the Horsemen didn’t need to throw the card around. The only reason they threw the card around is because the camera’s were rolling and the film needed an action beat to keep audiences from falling asleep.
There is a whole lot of bad in Now You See Me 2 and the only thing that has stopped me from throwing the film into the ‘D’ zone for story is the writing and chemistry between the Horsemen and, admittedly, much of that comes from the script. If only they put enough love into the magic as they did into the characters.
Now You See Me was directed by Louis Leterrier. Leterrier is the man behind such films as Transporter and The Incredible Hulk (I liked it, sue me). If someone had asked me who directed Now You See Me 2, I would have very easily told you that Leterrier came back to build on the ‘franchise’. In actuality John M. Chu directs the sequel. There is nothing original about how this film is shot. Chu does nothing to differentiate the film from Leterrier and in that sense this is as bland a film as ever made.
I do think that Chu directs action a little better than Leterrier but, again, to be fair, that is like picking between two lads to knick your wife – in the immortal words of Gary Neville.
The only reason to watch this film is the fact that everyone seems to be having fun in the film. Woody Harrelson is as creepy but lovable as ever and he gets more to work with in this film. Dave Franco is as cute and watchable as he has always been. Ruffalo is always good no matter the quality of the product. Freeman walks through this. Daniel Radcliffe has fun with the role and I was excited to see him ham it up. But the standout performer in the flick is Lizzy Caplan. Isla Fisher, one of the Horsemen from the first, does not return for this feature but Caplan is perhaps an improvement. She’s funnier and better with these characters and steals every scene she’s in.
Now You See Me 2 is predictable fluff that is once again partially saved by the characters trapped in this utterly skippable story.