Movie Review: “Now You See Me 2” – A Flashy Distraction

Written by Reece Mawhinney June 17, 2016

Jesse Eisenberg in Now You See Me 2Following the reveal that the events of the first film were the excessively well thought-out designs for a revenge plan spanning over twenty years, Now You See Me 2 now expects its audience to believe the same can be done again without any of the prior planning. It’s a good thing that our main characters are pretty good at magic, isn’t it?

In Now You See Me 2, we once again join the Four Horsemen, illusionist and ego-maniac Danny Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), hypnotist, mentalist and source of both film’s best comedic moments Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson) and Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) whose “tricks” of sleight of hand, impressionism and punching are the huge contribute to making these two films thrillers. The group is now missing Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher) though Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo), the FBI agent and man-behind-the-curtain has assigned them a new girl Lula May (Lizzy Caplan) in order to keep the status quo and their name going strong. The group now are training for full-membership into the eye which apparently Rhodes has not yet actually attained and is not exactly the mystical elitist magic group that it was presented as being in the first film but rather a Robin-Hood organisation which sends out magicians as agents to expose corrupt businessmen because clearly Rhodes can’t just use his FBI connections to bring justice to people…

“We’re going out with a show that people will never forget”

The Eye was definitely the weakest point in an otherwise fairly gripping plot of the first film and unfortunately, the decision to make the organisation the major focus along with a plethora of other head-scratching new plot points such as evil twins, Asian mercenaries and even more plot twists that come out of thin air definitely force the film to leave its prequel which was somewhat grounded in reality for a world that is clearly one of escapist fantasy. It will definitely be making some audience members go “Huh?” instead of “Wow” like the first film but no more so than the reaction you’d get to seeing Indiana Jones survive a nuclear blast in a fridge or James Bond shooting completely straight after having his head drilled into.

“We jumped off a roof in New York and landed in China”

Honestly, this isn’t necessarily the worse move to have been made by new director Jon M. Chu, though it would have been nice if he could have kept his style straight so there was never any question about the leap taken. It does have the greatly appreciated bonus of doing away with a lot of the exposition-heavy scenes which weighed down its predecessor, although that being said, this film does do its fair share of telling and not showing for a film that focuses on magicians.

Now You See Me Pic 3

With all the new changes, there’s plenty of things that have stayed the course and carry on into this film from its predecessor. For a start, the casting is utterly brilliant and the characterisation feels completely natural coming from each and every actor. You get a real sense of how much fun they’re having which makes it much easier to not really take the film seriously and go along for the ride, although it does still hurt a bit that none of these characters outside of Rhodes gets anything close to proper growth or even a backstory outside of a few lines here and there. The effects are even better than those in the first film and the tricks are much more ambitious which helps to level out that they’re simply not as creative or well-directed but again, they open up the audience much more to being lost in the magic of what’s on screen.

“There’s always more than what’s on the surface”

All in all, Now You See Me 2 is a spectacle. If you’re going in only wanting to see complex character arcs, impressive thematic studies on the nature of belief…a strong narrative, then unfortunately you will be disappointed. But if you’re up for just sitting back and enjoying these actors putting on a show that taps into that childish sense of wonder, taking you back to the first time you saw a magic show, that makes you just think “That’s so cool. I wish I could do that!” then this is a definitely a film you’ll want to check out.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Now You See Me Pic 1

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