Now You See Me 2 is the sequel to the surprise hit Now You See Me from 2013. The Four Horsemen, led by J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg) managed to steal money from Arthur Tressler and disappear into thin air. The latest film picks up about eighteen months later when the Four Horsemen are duped into helping a shady tycoon, Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe) steal a computer card which will enable to spy on every man, woman and child in the world via their computers, cell phones and tablets. Virtually anything that can be monitored will be vulnerable. Blackmailed and without many options, the Four Horsemen agree and we have our movie.
Now You See Me 2 (or NYSM2 as they have called it in the advertising banners) features a lot of high energy set pieces and some of them work, but after a while this film not only pushes reality but steamrolls over it. Our heroes seem to be able to pop up to audiences anywhere and have entire sets for their tricks already set up, all out of thin air. There is scene after scene of these extravagant tricks they are performing that would take weeks to prepare for, but Presto! Chango! There they are. One involving industrial sized fans and sprinkler systems, gives Atlas the chance to control water. First off, everyone would see and hear the fans and I doubt strongly the water droplets would move in such a perfect way to imply magic. The whole scene is quite ridiculous as is most of this film.
The acting is decent with Eisenberg bringing his nervous energy to his performance once again. Woody Harrelson returns in a duel role as Merritt McKinney the hypnotist and his twin brother (a totally unneeded and truly annoying character) also a practicing hypnotist who is working with Mabry. David Franco is back as Jack Wilder, the card king, who could shoot a card up a bug’s butt at a hundred yards. Isla Fisher, however, is out due to her pregnancy but happily Lizzy Caplan is in as the newest member of the Four Horsemen, named Lula. Caplan is lovely and one of the more interesting characters in this film as is Daniel Radcliffe who surprised me as the villain. He is a smarmy little punk and Radcliffe convinced me he was a serious foe to the heroes. Mark Ruffalo returns as FBI agent Dylan Rhodes. The rest of the capable cast consists of Sanaa Latham as Rhodes’ new FBI boss, Morgan Freeman is back as Thaddeus Bradley who ended up in jail from the last film. He is looking for a little payback as is Arthur Tressler played by the Michael Caine.
The cast does what it can, but no one really stood out with the exceptions of Lizzy Caplan and Daniel Radcliffe. The problem with NYSM2 is that the script is made out of recycled plots from a dozen other films most notably with hints to the first Mission Impossible. Ed Solomon’s script never can settle down and follow the main plot, instead we get subplots and additional characters that are unnecessary. Everything but the kitchen sink has been stuffed into this film and it is just too much. The tricks are fun to watch but so over the top that they hurt the credibility of the film. Sure, this is just a film, but there has to be some basis to reality. These tricks are so far fetched that I did not believe a second of it and as a result the rest of the film suffers. Everyone is working real hard to sell the material, but I was not buying. Former music video director, Jon M. Chu keeps up the hyper kinetic pacing but NYSM2 ends up feeling like a really long music video. Chu (who has signed to direct the next installment of this franchise) has some visual flair but the film is too choppy and disjointed. It tries hard but ends up being ridiculous. I did, however, enjoy Brian Tyler’s score which is worth purchasing.
Now You See Me 2 is frantic to entertain and while it has its moments, the cast is sufficient and has a great score, there is just too much thrown at the screen for me to take seriously. The first film was hollow, goofy fun while this one is just plain silly.
Now You See Me 2- ** 1/2 out of 5
Now You See Me 2- Rated PG-13 for language and violence
Now You See Me 2- Run Time is 125 minutes
Now You See Me 2 is currently in theaters. Check your local listings for times and locations.