Written by: Ed Solomon, Pete Chiarelli.
Directed by: Jon M. Chu.
Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Morgan Freeman, Jesse Eisenberg, Daniel Radcliffe.
Running Time: 129 minutes.
The Horsemen come out of their slumber to expose a tech genius with plans to destroy privacy in the world as we know it.
THE OPENING ACT
The Four horsemen are a group of highly skilled magicians who use their skills in a manner that would leave Robin Hood blushing. A year after the incidents from the highly successful prequel, we meet the horsemen in hiding. They are summoned out by The Eye – A clairvoyant presence who essentially controls the horsemen. There’s a murky new threat to the privacy of the world and The Eye won’t have any of it. He informs FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) a.k.a de Facto leader of the 4H, to assemble the team for a heist.
Enter street magician Daniel Atlas Jr. (Jesse Eisenberg), hypnotist Meritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson) and card genius Jack Wilder (Dave Franco). They are joined by a manic Lula (Lizzy Kaplan), who stands as replacement for Isla Fisher. The plans are all being executed impeccably until they are kidnapped by another tech genius named Walter Nabry (Daniel Radcliffe). Dylan is separated from the horsemen while Nabry plans on using the horsemen to steal the technology for himself. Under threats of exposure, the horsemen succumb.
They reunite in China to try and sabotage Nabry’s grand plans. Meanwhile, the infamous Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman) carries out his own set of plans to locate the horsemen and exact revenge for sending him to prison. Divulging any further into the plot isn’t fair to a movie about crime fighting magicians but the rest is a rollercoaster ride – an unpleasant one which makes you want to apparate out of the cinema.
NOW CHU SEE ME
Technically speaking, director Jon M. Chu (G.I Joe: Retaliation, Step Up All In) was inconsistent to say the least. There were parts which dazzled. But those would be followed by scenes which made no sense – even for a movie about magic. He did manage to keep the pace of the movie while staying close to the appeal of the original, but somewhere he lost his way.
They say that magic is all about misdirecting the audience to distract them from the secrets of your tricks. And that approach worked magically in the first movie. Writers Ed Solomon and Pete Chiarelli try exactly that but fail dejectedly by sending the audience in multiple directions. Even cinematographer Peter Deming tries too hard to steer close to home.
The oddest part about the movie is the futile inclusion of Woody Harrelson’s twin brother. Other than casting, the background score by Brian Tyler was the closest thing to a success in the film. Even the editing by Stan Salfas deserves a special mention.
YOU’RE A TECHIE, HARRY!
Let’s leave the usual biggies aside for a bit. The whole world awaited the return of Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter series, December Boys) in a magic movie. The thought was enticing. Although he didn’t make a mess of it, he did seem frenzied. Maybe that was just the character.
Returning as the leader of the horsemen is Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight, Shutter Island), who was splendid as ever. Woody Harrelson (True Detective, Triple 9) plays Merritt McKinney with the perfection that you’d expect, but then came along the character of his twin brother. Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network, Zombieland) and Dave Franco (21 Jump Street, Warm Bodies) reprise their roles and Daniel Atlas Jr. and Jack Wilder respectively with ease and precision.
An interesting addition to the line-up was the excitable Lula played by Lizzy Kaplan (Cloverfield, The Interview), who acted as replacement for Isla Fisher. And as always, Morgan Freeman (Se7en, The Shawshank Redemption) gifts us his authoritative presence. An interesting cameo presented itself in the form of Michael Caine (The Prestige, Inception) who returned as Arthur Tressler from the prequel.
ALL IN ALL
Now You See Me 2 is like watching a magic trick once the magician has revealed the secret behind it. When a sequel was announced, the world was excited to see what they could offer, but sadly it wasn’t much. It’s humbly enjoyable at best. The actors have a great time with the limited depth of characters they were offered and that is one factor that does Jon Chu some favors. Guess he was too busy trying his own magic tricks – tricking the audience into believing this was a great movie.
WATCH IT IF YOU’RE: In the mood for a ensemble cast flick OR a fan of the original.