Now You See Me 2 (2016)

September 10, 2016

Now you see me confused.

Confused to why there was a need to make a sequel to the 2013 film Now You See Me. When I saw the trailer for Now You See Me 2, I was skeptical about the sequel and after watching the sequel, I am convinced that the movie makers should have just left good enough alone and not made this sequel.

Now You See Me 2 has a plot, it is inconsequential. The Four Horsement -- really just Three Horsemen at the beginning of the film -- have been in hiding for 18 months since their last escapade (the first film) and have been rehearsing their next show in quiet. The missing Horseperson is Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher), she apparently decided to part ways with the Horsemen. Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) has been working with the FBI to track down the Horsemen (whom he is the leader) and has been leading the FBI on a wild goose chase. The Horsemen are called back together to out a piece of technology that would allow the owner of the tech to decrypt anything (Gasp! Why doesn't the NSA already have this tech?). Stuff happens, world travel ensues and by the end of the film, we're all left wondering: Huh?

The film has some fun moments in it. I really liked the extended sequence in the middle of the film with the Horsemen stealing the chip. It was well choreographed and well-paced. Unfortunately, there are not many of these moments in the film. There are some sequences of pure spoken exposition that were painful to sit through. There were quite a few, well-earned, twists in the film and that made the film fun for a little.

Quite possibly, the best thing in the film is Lizzy Caplan's character Lula, who is the replacement for Henley on the Horsemen. When she joins, she seems like a direct replacement for Henley (as if they just changed the name of the Henley characer and put in a different actress). But, as the film moves on, the character is different, memorable and more fun than the Henley character -- a lot of this is because of Caplan, who is more charismatic in this film than Fisher was in the first film.

Daniel Radcliffe is quite fun to watch on screen as Evil Harry Potter... I mean, Walter Mabry, a creepy technology nerd who is very concerned about his privacy. Radcliffe chews every scene he is in and is very fun to watch. There is a scene where he reveals how he got the Horsemen to where they are in the world and that scene was hilarious, and it was all because of Radcliffe.

One Woody Harrelson is ok. Two Woody Harrelsons is just annoying. Jesse Eisenberg is quickly becoming a bad caricature of himself. He has brought along some of his Lex Luthor ticks from Batman v Superman into Now You Can See Me 2. Mark Ruffalo, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine are all wasted in the film.

The problem with this second film is that it tries too hard to convince the audience that the tricks and misdirection shown onscreen are tricks. Because it is trying so hard,the pacing of the film grinds ot a halt and the life is sucked out of the tricks. The first film moved at a very brisk pace and used style to misdirect our attention from the lack of substance. The second film abuses computer generated effects for the tricks, so much so that it becomes a distraction. Suspension of disbelief, which is desperately needed for this film's plot, is taken away from the audience because of the overuse of CGI for the magic tricks.

Surprisingly, the film travels the world but feels quite small and confined.

In the end, while Now You See Me 2 is fun for moments, there's not enough fun to recommend the film. This film is a good example of unnecessary sequels.

Spoilers

At the end of the film, Morgan Freeman's character Thaddeus explains how he and Dylan's father were actually partners. He explains that Dylan blaming him for his father's death is misdirected (heh). Thaddeus goes on to try to explain why he did not tell Dylan this fact at the end of the first film (when Dylan is throwing Thaddeus in jail). All of this explaining smelled of pure BS. None of it made sense and it is completely wedged into the story so that the writers of the second story could try to explain away the ending of the first film. The end of the first film did not fit in with the story that they were trying to tell in the second film. All of this explaining is revisionist canon adjusting and a big reason why this second film left a bitter taste in my mouth. The first film finished off perfectly fine, this film ruins the ending of the first film.


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