When you see a magician perform you are met with a few different emotions. You can be entertained, fearful, relieved, joyful and eventually confused. As time went on, people started to reveal the secrets of how the magicians performed their illusions. Suddenly the mystery was gone and instead all that was left was Youtube comments about how fake it all was.
Now You See Me 2 deals with the continued stunts of The Horsemen, a secretive group of magicians who use elaborate public stunts to disguise large scale robberies. In the sequel to 2013’s successful film, Jesse Eisenberg’s Daniel Atlas and crew have been one upped by the supposedly dead Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe) who captures The Horsemen and looks to use their services to steal from a former business partner. The film sees The Horsemen journey from the US to China and England on their journey, because we all know the film will need to meet those demographics in today’s cinematic world. The plot twists and turns throughout, each of the characters motives up for analysis and leaving the audience never truly knowing where the film is heading. The plot is one of the most enjoyable features of the film, it is refreshing to watch a movie and be surprised, unfortunately by the end there were too many twists and I left the theatre convinced of plot holes and extreme deus ex machina.
A glitzy glamorous film about illusion and robbery needs a sparkling cast, and tweaked from the original film, Now You See Me 2 has assembled a perfect cast to cover all the bases. Eisenberg, Dave Franco and Woody Harrelson all reprise their roles in the Horsemen well while newcomer Lizzy Caplan replaces Isla Fisher in a more enjoyable role. The interplay between Mark Ruffalo and Morgan Freeman is more grounded and plays on strong emotions against the more fanciful, bloated Horsemen and Radcliffe’s villain.
The problem with this film I suspect is director Jon M Chu and many of the choices made with the film. Chu has previously been responsible for Never Say Never (A Justin Beiber Film) and Jem And The Holograms, his pedigree seems to be in empty spectacle and unfortunately that is what is provided here. Quick snappy editing, high adrenaline music and colours and quippy banter barely covers an empty carcass of a money grab sequel that could have been promising. Characters are thrown into ludicrous scenarios to satisfy the requirements of big budget Hollywood films. To ensure the audience's attention, there is an action beat every 15 minutes or so, unfortunately this includes a ridiculous heist scene where the cast needlessly flick a card around in a scene which stretches anybodies willingness to suspend disbelief. When a character is then assailed by a mob of henchmen and fights them off with tricks, I was more than aware of what i was watching and instead of the constant quick edit keeping my eyes entertained, I was blinded by chaos. The final spectacle is gorgeous to look at but is paper thin in logic and realism, even in a movie about magic.
A sequel has already been announced for the film and unfortunately this will be just another film that failed to live up to its original and only acts as a way for Lionsgate to develop a franchise. The film is enjoyable and the acting is fine, but the plot is hollow and needlessly complex in parts while then spewing out exposition explanations like the audience was asleep for the last hour. Frustrating.