The biggest magic trick of all is the fact this movie exists in the first place. The first Now You See Me was a cool idea of intertwining magic within a heist film but fell flat with forced twists, unlikable characters and a push beyond the surreal to the far out in terms of believability.
The question for the sequel then is how to balance what has already been established and take it further, which surprisingly it seems to have done, so is it for real? Or have I fallen for the ruse?
Before I get into the details I want you to pick a card. Memorize it in your head.
To the review: The stellar cast featuring Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Dave Franco, Woody Harrelson return (sans Isla Fischer) alongside nemesis come ally Morgan Freeman and some fresh faces in Lizzy Caplan and Daniel Radcliffe (the irony is not lost, Radcliffe’s next biggest movie after Harry Potter is again about magic) Overall this impressive line-up bolsters what can only be described as a movie that confuses itself and gets so caught up in the twists that half the time the audience is left scratching their heads. Not even the epic talent of these actors saves a lousy script that still reeks of unlikable and selfish characters, and borderline cliché one-dimensional development.
That being said – I found Now You See Me 2 to be far superior to the first, for a number of reasons. The first is a fresh interesting setting, mostly set in Macau, China; the second being the stakes are raised, which is crucial for sequels. Third is the plot motivation itself; the first in the series the ‘Horseman’ had the wool over the proverbial audience’s eyes, leaving us spellbound at each turn and enjoying the ride, now it is about them being out-smarted and fooled, and trying to rebuild not only their reputation, but their livelihood after they are tricked and blackmailed by a slightly mad tech giant with plans for world domination.
We get to see every play, every thought, the trials and tribulations, and this is a far more interesting avenue to explore.
Directed by Jon M. Chu, the guy who did the Justin Bieber documentaries (but don’t hold that against him) you face a hard issue in movies about magic; the biggest being that magicians use things like sleight of hand or misdirection to lure you into their plot, so what you don’t see is the cogs turning elsewhere. In movies you must show something in play otherwise it comes off as what is known as Deus ex Machina, or in other words ‘God from the Machine’, which again AKA it comes from nowhere and the audience is cheated. So you can be assured any time you see a certain shot linger, or a moment happen you think is redundant think again, because it will creep up again later on in the picture.
That being said Jon. M Chu has prevailed with an interesting and entertaining film that does genuinely leave you trying to guess what happens next (most of the time) and when isn’t what you expect, the reward is that gooey feeling inside when you know you got played. And speaking of that, was your card the nine of diamonds? Yes? Cool. No? Well of course it isn’t, its not my job to trick you, it’s the movie’s, so go check it out.