In 2013 a slick looking magic based blockbuster by the name of Now You See Me hit cinemas grossing over $350 million worldwide. Despite an intriguing premise based around a magic based heist crew the film didn’t really live up to the promise of its stellar cast list falling flat due to a melodramatic tone and an imperviously silly narrative.
After a year of being in hiding the remaining horsemen J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson) and Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) have grown restless of having to remain off the grid. The leader of the horsemen FBI Agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) recruits a new illusionist to join the team in the form of Lula May (Lizzy Caplan). In an attempt to take down a corrupt businessman the horsemen and Dylan are exposed by Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe) and must now work with their enemy to earn their freedom all while former rival Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman) works to manipulate the action from behind the scenes.
Perhaps the key to enjoying Now You See Me 2 is going in with the expectancy that what you’re about to see is not going to be a particularly cerebral experience. The various capers that take place within the film are mostly entertaining in their ridiculously bombastic nature, in particular a sequence where the group have to hide a computer chip disguised as a playing card whilst being searched by a security team. The cast mostly deliver what you would expect with Jesse Eisenberg and Mark Ruffalo taking turns being excessively tense and overdramatic and Woody Harrelson and Dave Franco each having a few nice character moments between them. Morgan Freeman is on hand to deliver the opening narration in typically grandiose fashion and his immeasurable screen presence is a welcome distraction from the gaping plot holes that occasionally threaten to engulf the movie whole. Out of the newcomers, despite a charming appearance from Daniel Radcliffe, Lizzy Caplan is the most welcome addition bringing an abundance of humour that lacked in the previous Now You See Me and her energetic, zesty display was highly impressive. Director Jon M. Chu’s fast paced direction compliments the complicated choreography of the films major set pieces, and considering his work in directing large ensemble movement pieces such as in the Step Up Franchise, it is in these moments that the film shines as an illogical romp of magical denouement. This being said the interchanges between these set pieces are often lacklustre at best with the films attempts at reaching for a deeper dramatic threshold undercut by its pure silliness. The movie ends with a plodding thud and the last 15 minutes are an unwelcome stalling of the manic pace that leave you wishing for it all to wrap up as quickly as possible.
An all thrills, no brains, summer blockbuster Now you see me 2 contains enough high octane nonsense, entertaining gags and moments of Morgan Freeman talking with his rich harmonious voice to keep you from ever getting too bored. But needless to say it doesn’t compare with the likes of Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige or Neil Burger’s The Illusionist in terms of cinematic scope but as a big, dumb, stylish summer set piece it was perfectly fine.
3 / 5
Dir: Jon M. Chu
Scr: Ed Solomon
Cast: Mark Ruffalo, Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Lizzy Caplan, Dave Franco, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Daniel Radcliffe, Sanaa Lathan, Jay Chou
Prd: Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Bobby Cohen
DOP: Peter Deming
Music: Brian Tyler
Country: United States
Run time: 129 mins
Now You See Me 2 is out now in UK cinemas