John Hanlon Reviews

Film Reviews

Now you See Me 2 Review

Now you See Me 2

Genre: Action and Adventure, Thriller

Director: Jon M. Chu

Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, Daniel Radcliffe, Lizzy Caplan, Jay Chou, Sanaa Lathan, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman

MPAA-Rating: PG-13

Release Date: June 10th, 2016

Now you See Me 2 has a few fun elements but they are unfortunately overshadowed by a superficial story.

The Four Horsemen — magicians who use their undeniable talents to right wrongs and uncover wealthy crooks — return to the spotlight in the new sequel Now your See Me 2. Actually, page only three of the horsemen really return in this sequel as Isla Fisher opted not to return for this second outing. Replacing her is Lizzy Caplan who stars as Lula, another magician who wants to use her talents to bring criminals to justice and make a show out of it.

The sequel, which opens three years after the original, takes place more than a year after the events of the first film. The horsemen haven’t performed together since the original’s climactic end but are brought together again by the corrupt FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo). Rhodes invites Lula to join the sarcastic J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), the bombastic Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson) and the cocky Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) for their latest “production.”

That production — a takeover of a software conference — is hijacked by a mysterious loner, who starts revealing some of their secrets. Soon enough, the group is recruited to help a corrupt loner named Walter Mabry (Daniel Radliffe) steal a computer chip that can break through any computer security system.

Director Jon M. Chu (Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, G.I. Joe Retaliation) takes over as director here and tries to capture the spunk and excitement of the original. His intentions are there but the story doesn’t really offer much excitement. Even the fight sequences are shot so frantically that it’s hard to appreciate them.

The screenplay by Ed Solomon never lets these characters stand out, leaving these gifted actors little to do in terms of their development. The magic is at the forefront here but the characters who perform it feel like an afterthought.

In terms of the magic itself, there are a few truly impressive sequences including one outlandish one when the team — on a secret operation — pass a chip (that resembles a playing card) from one person to another. That’s the kind of fun sequence that this sequel needed more of. Instead, the film is slowed down by long meandering scenes, including a dimly-lit scene that takes place in an old magic shop.

Daniel Radcliffe makes for a fun addition here and his first meeting with the horsemen — where he shows off the Hangover-type photos he took of them while they were sleeping — is very funny. Unfortunately, we don’t get to see more of his fun character as he slowly devolves into a typical villain with a few tricks up his sleeve. The Harry Potter alum fits perfectly in this ensemble but one  wishes he had more of a chance to shine.

There are a few neat tricks on display here but some of them have simply been carried over from the original feature. That film, while flawed, felt like it was offering something new and unique. Here, the fun of this concept seems to have worn off quite a  bit. Even the end, which feels pat and predictable, lacks the excitement it deserves.

It should be noted that Morgan Freeman’s character of Thaddeus Bradley returns with a few surprises and even a solid twist. The problem is that the twist doesn’t make a lot of sense if you stop to think about it. When the film has ended, there are plenty of questions that haven’t been answered but the show is over and  the magic has clearly disappeared.

Review by: John Hanlon