‘Now You See Me 2’ is the Mystery/Thriller sequel to the surprise hit ‘Now You See Me’ which released back in 2013. That was a movie that combined a great cast and likeable characters with a fresh plot and ended up being a very enjoyable and entertaining film. This film tries to emulate the same qualities that made its predecessor successful and where it does that well in some aspects, sometimes the magic just doesn’t quite work. Pretty much the entire cast from the first film returns with the additions of Daniel Radcliffe and Lizzy Caplan and this department was by far the best in the film. The chemistry between the characters in this film was the biggest highlight and was what made the second half of this film at all enjoyable. Everyone played their part very well and the performances were spot on across the board, they just didn’t have much compelling storytelling to work with. The movie starts off very promising and engages you with intrigue and misdirection to the point where you are bought into where the story is going. But then it all goes wrong as the film gradually loses its grasp on how to further the story in an interesting way and gets dumb.
‘The Four Horsemen’ are the magicians we follow throughout the course of the film and whenever we saw Dave Franco, Lizzy Caplan, Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, and Mark Ruffalo going back and forth, interacting with each other during tricks, and just talking, i was fully invested in the film. These guys looked like they were having so much fun on set and really did commit to these characters and it made watching them act out the film very entertaining. Each of their personalities really shines through and you get to know each character very well, whether they were in the first film or not. Morgan Freeman returns in this film and put in a good performance as the mysterious Thaddeus Bradley and was equally as enjoyable to watch as our protagonists. Daniel Radcliffe’s inclusion is one addition to the film that didn’t quite work as well as i hoped it would, considering he should be well adept with magic and all that. It was nothing to do with his performance, just the role his character plays in the film was very ambiguous at times, like, what he is doing, why he is doing it, who is he, everything about his character added another layer to a film that really didn’t need it.
The magic set-pieces were some highlights in the film and they were somewhat engaging but maybe if we hadn’t seen almost every single one in the trailer it could have been more ‘surprising’. Rather than the big, massive, epic, magic tricks being the stars of the film it was the small things which were actually more fun to watch as you don’t really see them coming. When there is a big build up to something you pretty much know that a trick is right around the corner.
And that was the biggest issue with this film, it went for the same technique, over and over and over again to the point where i did not care about what on earth was happening in the story. I get it, this is a film about magic, about misdirection, and about surprises, and they really put you in the audience seat and try to constantly trick you with twists and turns at every corner. Now in the first half of the film this works quite well, i was intrigued, they ‘got me’ a few times and then they did not know when to stop. Every second scene they go for the twist, and they go for the blindside, and every 5 minutes there’s a reveal and BANG you’re meant to be surprised, but just when you think you know what’s going on BANG another twist and then BANG a twist of a twist. It gets very old very fast to the point where the twist would be if there wasn’t one. This made me lose any and all interest in the plot and just focus on the characters and character development to get me through. Definitely should have been handled with not as much big blindsides, goes from impressive to straight up annoying.
So in the end there is quite a bit of enjoyment to be had with this film and that comes from the cast and the range of characters we have interacting with each other. If you were a fan of the first film i will say you won’t be overly disappointed with what you get because it does deliver on the beats explored in the first film. The problem is that it goes a little too far with trying to be bigger and better that is forgets to just make a good lasting story first before trying to 1up the first film.