I honestly was not planning on seeing this movie yet, but there was no convenient time to see The Conjuring 2 or Popstar, so I went to see the sequel to the sufficiently entertaining “Now You See Me”.
And this sequel was the cinematic equivalent of a shoulder shrug.
The frustrating thing, though, was that the movie was not all that insufferable. There was no assembly line of garbage jokes or a long list of cliches, it was just a movie that had almost nothing to offer. The biggest thing that Now You See Me 2 DID have to offer was not all that impressive.
Every single character in this movie is so surface level and uninteresting that I do not know why they even bothered giving them character names; they should have just called them by their actor names because that’s what I did the entire time.
Jesse Eisenberg’s sole attributes are that he’s a magician and that he’s obsessed with being famous and a leader.
James Franco’s sole attribute is that he’s good at card tricks.
Woody Harrelson’s was that he’s a hypnotist and that he wears a fedora.
Mark Ruffalo’s was that he’s angry that his dad is dead and that he’s terrible at everything despite being the leader of the group.
And girl-who-replaced-Isla-Fisher was the frustratingly over-used “I-can-do-things-too,-boys” character.
But the movie does not really do anything to develop any of them in a fascinating way. They’re just a bunch of stiff characters that really do not add anything interesting to the viewing experience. This was made all the more frustrating because the film ACTS like these guys are a big deal. Everybody cheers and guffaws over these magicians like they are the best thing in the world, and the movie does not earn the popularity that the magicians seem to have.
What this film does do well is have some impressive-looking magic tricks. But this isn’t some show on a stage; it’s a movie, so whenever they do something magical, I don’t think, “That’s amazing! How did they do that?” I think “Oh, it’s special effects and camera tricks.” If they created Eisenberg, Franco, Harrelson, and Caplan into interesting and likable characters, then the magic tricks would be an added bonus to the enjoyment of the film. But seeing as the magic is the only leg this movie has to stand on, I cannot enjoy what I am seeing in front of me. I’m just seeing a bunch of relatively blank slates performing stunts that I know are being done for them through the magic of cinematography.
This movie also tries so desperately to be clever and surprising that it really is no surprise that the narrative and the characters just seem so unspecial. There are quite a few times where the movie tries so hard to one-up the audience that it compromises the believability of the whole movie. The biggest example of this will get really spoiler-y so skip to the next paragraph if you want to see this movie despite my suggestion not to see it.
<Spoiler> So as it turns out, Morgan Freeman was a good guy all along. Yes, even though he was an antagonist in the last movie, and he manipulates Ruffalo all throughout this movie, as it turns out, he’s been part of The Eye this whole time. Not only that, but he was super best friends with Mark Ruffalo’s dad. They did this bait-and-switch thing in the first movie with Ruffalo’s character, where even though he was a detective trying to beat The Horsemen to the punch, he was actually the guy who organized the formation of The Horsemen to begin with. So when the sequel does it with ANOTHER character, all I can think is “Oh this is just them trying to seem clever and blow my mind.” But it all just felt so cheap and counterintuitive that I felt nothing resembling cleverness or mind-blowedness. </Spoiler>
I suppose it doesn’t hurt to mention that Radcliffe made a fairly un-compelling villain.
<Spoiler-ish> Also Woody Harrelson also has a twin brother in this sequel, and he was the most obnoxious part of the whole movie. </Spoiler-ish>
There’s not a whole lot that Now You See Me 2 does wrong, but they have nothing of true substance to go see. The whole time, I felt that the movie was broadcasting unlikable, uninteresting characters and treating them like they are glorious, popular, modern-day Robin Hoods (complete with a heaping dose of unearned moral superiority). The special effects are fairly interesting to watch, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t make up for all the blandness and obnoxiousness this film has stuffed in, and I’m giving this movie a 4 out of 10.