Now You See Me 2. 2016
Directed by Jon M. Chu
Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, Lizzy Caplan, Mark Ruffalo, Daniel Radcliffe, Jay Chou, Ben Lamb, Morgan Freeman, and Michael Caine
The Four Horsemen resurface and are forcibly recruited by a tech genius to pull off their most impossible heist yet.
In an age where Hollywood blockbusters feel obligated to go bigger and bolder from their previous iterations, I should have just known that Now You See Me 2 (even the title to this movie is a failure for not going with the obvious ‘Now You Don’t’) would take an already absurd plot-line that is cranked up to 11, and crank it up to 1,100 on the ludicrous scale. This stupidity of it all won’t necessarily make your head hurt, only because by the time things truly go off the rails, you are long past the point of giving a flying squirrel’s nut about anything transpiring.
Before taking down just how horrible Now You See Me 2 seriously is, I should preface this review by stating that I actually enjoyed the first film to some degree. Yes, it’s very frustrating and defeats the purpose of the whole concept of the movie when most of the magic displayed is actually special-effects and technical wizardry shrouded in green-screen backgrounds, but it also didn’t exactly stop the movie from being a fun way to waste two hours. This story was full of implausible twists, and was punctuated by even more ridiculous and unbelievable grand finale tricks, but it was all forgivable on some level simply because occasionally it was entertaining.
However, some of the elaborate set-pieces in Now You See Me 2 are bafflingly over-the-top to the point where they insult the intelligence of the audience. Around midway through this head-scratching experience is a scene where The Four Horsemen (Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, and newcomer to the group Lizzy Caplan, because apparently Isla Fisher didn’t want to return for this crap) have to infiltrate a science lab and steal a powerful computer chip that the poorly characterized villain (played by none other than a very boring Daniel Radcliffe) wants; it has the power to spy on the world through their cell phones (you seriously can’t make this shit up). After confiscating it, the renegade magicians secretly play keep away with the guards as they are being patted down, by discreetly flinging it around to each other. At one point, Jesse Eisenberg lets it slide all the way down his clothes (with the camera following it in slow-motion) before shuffling it around to someone else. Even the movements and angles this chip/card is thrown at are preposterous; it’s as if this poker card resembling computer chip is a Batarang, able to turn and circulate around rooms at ease.
The scene goes on for over four minutes, as if director Jon Chu (who by the way, has directed a couple Justin Bieber documentaries and some awful movies like Jem and the Holograms), is under the impression that what he is delivering is awesome beyond comprehension, and thinks that he is showing us a piece of cinematic greatness that moviegoers will never live down witnessing for the rest of their lives. To be honest, I rolled with the first minute of the nonsensical set-piece, but only so much is tolerable before reality kicks in and you question what the hell you are watching. The movie is already 129 minutes, so the already far too silly magic tricks, that are once again all mostly CGI, don’t really need self-indulgence.
Still, that’s not where Now You See Me 2 will necessarily lose audiences. The towel must be thrown in when you realize that you are essentially watching a movie based around magic tricks and complex schemes of betrayal and revenge that are 30 years in the making. There is absolutely no way on this planet or any other planet in the galaxy that anyone in the world can sit down and say “Yeah, it’s exaggerated storytelling but this is riveting”. This movie will cause the eyes of moviegoers to roll into the back of their head.
The only thing that cannot be taken away from Now You See Me 2 is that much like the first film, all of the cast involved seem to be having a joyous time interacting with one another, and why not considering the movie once again boasts an all-star cast full of faces young and old. Woody Harrelson even gets to play his evil twin, which is about the only nonsensical thing in this movie that I was able to go along with. The problem is that none of the enthusiasm and energy the stars are bringing to the screen is infectious.
Anyway, the best part of Now You See Me 2 (aside from the ending credits) is watching Jesse Eisenberg manipulate rain and shoot it back upwards into the sky. It’s actually a nice visual, but the kicker is that his explanation amounts to nothing more than pointing out strobe lights and a weather machine, meaning that even when the movie does try to ground its magic into the real world, it still can’t even do that right coming across as believable. Maybe the filmmakers are sticking to CGI for a reason…
Now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to go levitate some rain.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★ ★