Now You See Me 2 Movie Review

The Four Horsemen are back! Wait, did anyone really care?  NOW YOU SEE ME 2  gives the impression that these magicians are the greatest thing to ever happen to the world.  Despite the fact that we live in a what have you done for me lately society, people everywhere have been waiting and wondering for over a year when the illusionist thieves might show up again.  The truth is, no one would care about these guys. So why does an audience care to see a film about them? Much like the plot points and magic tricks performed in NOW YOU SEE ME 2, you will find no explanation here.

Mark Ruffalo in Now You See Me 2

After a spectacular (and preposterous) public disappearing trick, where The Four Horsemen (Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco and Isla Fisher) managed to flee from the FBI while still catching the bad guys, NOW YOU SEE ME 2 takes place a year after the events from the first film.  Led by Mark Ruffalo (I see no need for character names), the team of Robin Hood magicians have returned.  Well, everyone except Isla Fisher, who is explained away by some dumb exposition and replaced by the very funny Lizzy Caplan.  The Horsemen are recruited/blackmailed by a billionaire tech genius believed to be dead (Daniel Radcliffe) to steal a very important document. Is it their most difficult heist ever? Not when you can defy all logic with special effects, editing and CGI.

 Daniel Radcliffe in Now You See Me 2

I disliked the first NOW YOU SEE ME, but its surprising success pushed me to despise it.  The sequel matches the original’s lack of intelligent, incoherent story telling and dumb use of special effects passed off as magic tricks.  NOW YOU SEE ME 2 is about as exciting as seeing David Copperfield make the Statue of Liberty disappear on television back in the 1980s.  In case you were wondering, it’s not that exciting, especially by today’s standards.  The Four Horsemen are able to perform physics defying magic.  Basically, they are superheroes with no laws and no explanations.  They know magic tricks. How do they disappear into a crowded street puddle? They know magic.  How are they in two places at once? They know hypnotism. How do they stop rain in mid air then move it any directing they choose? They actually explain this one – with a rain machine and lights.  I’m sorry, WHAT? That doesn’t work either. Oh but they are magicians so it’s okay. What about the live audience who are all wearing rain coats, holding umbrellas and somehow were prepared for this specifically small area of rain and never noticed a crew putting together this elaborate production set? Simply telling the audience that these guys are excellent magicians is not a good enough reason to do whatever you want with them.

 Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco Lizzy Caplan in Now You See Me 2

Any Positives? The cast is great. But just because I love all the actors doesn’t make the film any less idiotic.  It also is high on energy. But high energy and a couple of funny jokes doesn’t save an empty film.  In fact, the energy is offensive.   Director Jon M. Chu (JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS)  and writer Ed Solomon (THE IN-LAWS) spend the entire film trying to trick the audience into thinking what is on screen is actually clever and cool.  The camera moves around stagnant characters and dumb dialogue with fast edits, large noisy crowds, and upbeat music. The fake atmosphere is painfully obvious, but can be forgiven if there is something else of any quality to grab onto. Even the elaborate heist is diminished when the characters could have simply used an impressively believable sleight of hand trick. Instead, they begin throwing a CGI card arbitrarily around the room to one another unnoticed. None of that really matters since the film later dispels the entire purpose for that supposedly important scene.

I could easily say that once you pull the thread or ask a question, it all falls apart. However, I feel that’s giving the film too much credit.  It was never together to begin with. Mindless entertainment I can handle. Mindless disrespect to an audience’s intelligence I can’t.  NOW YOU SEE ME 2… I wish I hadn’t.


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