For my next trick, I’m going conjuring up a sequel to a film that didn’t really need one. Now You See Me felt like a one-film concept but money talks and the original made a baffling amount of cash – so more than enough to greenlight Now You See Me 2. Quite remarkably, all but one of the original cast have returned for the ride as the Four Horsemen are forced into another deadly situation that requires some special magic to get out of.
It’s been over a year since the Four Horsemen pulled off their biggest heist. The FBI are still trying to find them and Agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) is still playing both sides -making it look like he is doggedly searching for the elusive magicians but in fact working alongside them to help the gang stay one step ahead of the authorities.
In their time away, Henley (Isla Fisher) has left the group and a young street-magician named Lula (Lizzy Caplan) has taken her place. The Four Horsemen re-emerge from hiding to expose another fraud in spectacular fashion, but soon realise that the police have been tipped off beforehand, which forces them to flee the scene. This puts them straight into the hands of young billionaire Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe), a man who is meant to be dead but who has faked his own demise so that he can gain control of a piece of new technology that can hack any computer system in the world.
Kidnapped and forced to pull-off an impossible heist, the Horsemen must steal this technology for Mabry or he’ll kill them all. To make matters worse, Merritt McKinney’s (Woody Harrelson) own twin-brother (also played by Woody Harrelson) is in on it as Mabry’s right-hand man. The set-up does its job and this creates a lot of fun sequences for The Four Horsemen to get out of. One of the highlights includes a Mission Impossible-like sequence where the Horsemen have to steal the tech from a security bunker. All of this is fun but it relies far too much on circumstance to make any of it plausible.
And that’s Now You See Me 2’s biggest mistake. As in the first film, the filmmakers ask a lot of great questions that they don’t actually have the answers to. They explain away a few things but some of the bigger tricks require a lot of suspension of belief. When things start to get a little too complicated, we are told to believe its just ‘magic’. I’ve no problem with suspending belief in movies but not when you’re trying to sell it as an actual fact. How can Jesse Eisenberg’s J. Daniel Atlas fall back onto a rain-soaked pavement in Greenwich and turn into a puddle of water?!
So to get the most from this movie, you’ll have to take a hell of a lot of it on sheer blind faith. There’s also a line of smugness running throughout the film that makes it seem like Now You See Me 2 genuinely thinks that it’s delivering a really clever product – and that really annoys me. It can be fun at times and the cast are certainly all watchable but again, don’t underestimate your audience.
One thing the film does get right is fleshing out the characters a lot more this time around. Dave Franco, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine have all developed well. Isla Fisher is missed but her replacement is a paper-thin character that doesn’t utilise Lizzy Caplan’s talents nearly enough. Jesse Eisenberg and Mark Raffalo are their usual reliable selves and Woody Harrelson clearly has fun playing his own twin brothers. Daniel Radcliffe is also a great introduction to the cast as a petulant rich-kid with a complex.
I’m sure Now You See Me 2 will appeal to fans of the original, and it offers some fun for the casual viewer too. But some misplaced steps hamper the enjoyment – especially when it comes to a conveniently untold back-story that seriously questions the motives of one key elder-statesman from the first film.
You’ll like Now You See Me 2 but not a lot. These movies look like they were fun to shoot (and stylistically, they look great) so I’m sure the cast would love to make a third Now You See Me film. If this pulls in similar money I’m sure we will get another one. But if it could spend less time trying to pull the wool over our eyes and more on a plausible story, that would be magic.
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, Lizzy Caplan, Daniel Radcliffe, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Jay Chou, Sanaa Lathan Director: Jon M. Chu Writer: Ed Solomon, Peter Chiarelli, Boaz Yakin, Edward Ricourt Released By: eOne Certificate: 12A Duration: 129 mins Release Date: 4th July 2016