Now You See Me 2

This unnecessary sequel quickly wears thin.
Sarah Ward
Published on June 08, 2016


Whether it's an elaborate escape act or a simple piece of sleight of hand, when it comes to magic audiences want two things. They want to be fooled into believing that what they're seeing is real, but they also desperately want to know how it's really done. It's the same principle behind heist films, with viewers keen to watch criminals execute high-stakes robberies, and then discover how they pulled it off. It's hardly surprising, then, that Hollywood decided to blend the two with 2013's Now You See Me – and when it proved a hit, a sequel was all but inevitable.

Of course, easy and obvious isn't the same as interesting or enjoyable, a fact that the Now You See Me films seem to forget. Director Jon M. Chu  spends the bulk of the movie showcasing slickly shot and quickly choreographed tricks, in the hopes that we won't notice that the script by writer Ed Solomon doesn't really make any sense.

For those with short memories, the first film followed the Four Horsemen, a magic troupe that mesmerised crowds and fleeced banks at the same time. A year later, J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson) and Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) remain in the group, with newcomer Lula (Lizzy Caplan) filling the female quota. FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) calls the shots, throws law enforcement off of their trail and helps set up a big gig at a mobile phone product launch. Alas, when the Horsemen take to the stage, they soon find that they're caught up in someone else's game.

As Lula, Caplan acts excited and mentions what the gang is up to as much as she can — and that's Now You See Me 2 in a nutshell. She doesn't ever look at the screen and say, "I'm having fun with magic, and you should be too," but she may as well. For a time the film's over-the-top eagerness to entertain is somewhat effective, especially when former boy wizard Daniel Radcliffe shows up as a villainous inventor. Over the course of 115 minutes, however, the setups get more absurd, the attempts at misdirection more laboured, the backstory more clumsy and the returning cast (particularly Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine) less enthused. In short, it all wears thin.

Indeed, no matter how flashy it gets, Now You See Me 2 can't distract from a simple truth: at a certain point, seeing the same tricks over and over again is going to lose it's appeal. Eventually, people stop buying into the patter, grow tired of the parade of deceptions and explanations, and want more from a movie than a nod, a wink and a gimmick.


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