Late last month saw the release of Alice Through The Looking Glass, a sequel to a film I couldn’t stand and, in my opinion, a follow up that was completely unnecessary. All the film did was further show how little big studios cared about what kind of product they were putting up on screen, they just wanted something like the last film, in Alice’s case, a more than billion dollar property. Now Summit Entertainment is moving in the same direction with a continuation to their marginal hit magician movie Now You See Me, a film that aggravated me by wasting a good cast on a completely nonsensical film. Nothing was learned from the last outing as this one would be a laughably bigger thorn in my cinematic side.
With talent including Jesse Eisenberg, Morgan Freeman, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson and more, a film like Now You See Me should have been a slam dunk. Almost all of these actors are incredibly likeable and magicians putting together heists sounds like an interesting enough plotline. Unfortunately, The magic portion of this film was lost in the filmmakers interpretation of what magic is and instead of conjuring up illusions, they decided that bending the laws of physics completely unexplained and any plot holes of logic gaffs could be filled in with the blanket term, magic. It was enough to constantly have me go “what the hell are you doing, movie?”. As I said, this sequel just makes it worse. If you haven’t seen the first movie, I suggest you stop reading now.
After the events of the first film, the Horsemen are on the run and in hiding. It’s been eighteen months since their big finale and Danny Atlas (Eisenberg) is still searching for clues about his employers, the mysterious “eye”, and has since been separated from Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher from the first film), who doesn’t appear in this movie. Dylan Rhodes (Ruffalo) has returned to his job at the FBI and Merritt McKinney (Harrelson) has paired up with Jack Wilder (Dave Franco), who is still pretending to be dead. Plotting to take them down from his prison cell is Thaddeus Bradley (Freeman), a former magician that now helps to explain the tricks behind other magic acts and the villain of the first film. To replace Henley, a new woman, Lula (Lizzy Caplan), is brought in and the Horsemen are reformed.
Still working together to use their unique talents to take down embezzlers, cheats and frauds, the Horsemen are lured out of hiding to take down a tech giant, which all turns out to be a giant trap that exposes everyone and reveals Wilder to be very much alive and Dylan to be a mole within the Federal Bureau of Investigation. They choose to run and, through an elaborate trick, find themselves in Maccow, China and under the thumb of a tech genius named Walter Mabry, played by Daniel Radcliffe. He requires Daniel and his crew to steal a computer chip that will give him access to everyone’s computers across the globe. Cue utter and complete nonsense.
Again, logic goes completely out the window with Now You See Me 2, just as it did with it’s predecessor. Switching up original director Louis Leterrier for G.I. Joe Retaliation and Jem and The Holograms helmer Jon M. Chu is a step down in all areas as this film tries to eagerly appease you by consistently ignoring any plot issues by covering it up with “oh, that was a complex ruse! Aren’t we smart?”. This just further digs a hole for this film which it can not rise out of. It’s story and shoddy script are regularly problematic, from writer Ed Solomon who, on one hand gave us the Bill & Ted movies and Men In Black, but is also equally responsible for Super Mario Brothers and the Charlie’s Angels reboot. It’s all a perfect storm of crap.
It’s pretty apparent that the cast just saw dollar signs when it came to signing on to this film as it really doesn’t have anything of merit within, other than Woody Harrelson having fun with not just playing Merritt but also his grifter twin brother. Jesse Eisenberg continues his abysmal 2016 after Batman v. Superman with more slightly stuttery and sarcastic charm but the biggest offense of the film is the simple fact that they make the adorable Lizzy Caplan so abrasively annoying to the point that you just want her to be killed off horrifically just so you can salvage any good opinion about her. Really, Summit Entertainment, don’t ruin the real funny actors for me please! We have to cherish them!
With an egregiously long running time of over two hours, Now You See Me 2 is a perfect example of an overly bloated budget to make a shiny and pretty looking film with zero common sense and substance underneath that crumbles as soon as you start to poke your first hole in it. The simple fact that they have already announced a third film just bewilders me entirely. How can any studio executive look at these two films and see large enough profit margins to make not just one sequel but two? When movie fans constantly bring up Hollywood losing the ability to predict trends in what will catch the eye of their target demographics, these Now You See Me films have to be in the conversation somewhere. Please, don’t give this movie your money and let us see if we can change the landscape a little, if anything to prevent me from having to review Now You See Me 3. Or Now You THREE Me. I should work for marketing. I give this a one out of five.