Posted Jul 08 2016

Now You See You 2 - Magic Gone, Illusion Blown - This Movie Does Not Rock

Dir: Jon M. Chu

Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Dan Radcliffe, Mark Ruffalo, Dave Franco, Woody Harrelson, MIchael Caine, Lizzy Caplan, Morgan Freeman 

Now, we not going to go on about it (but we probably will) but they should have had the balls to call this ‘Now You Don’t.’ If you’re making a sequel to a movie called ‘Now You See Me,’ you have to call it ‘Now You Don’t.’ To go with your original title and add a rather obvious ‘2’ shows a profound lack of originality. It’s merely offering up stuff you’ve seen before – as in ‘Now You See Me – Again!’

Which, as it transpires, is totally appropriate, as this for-the-money sequel does show a profound lack of originality. And it really does offer up something we’ve seen before – only this time without the unexpected surprise and degree of charm of the first.

The Four Horsemen are in hiding. FBI guy Ruffalo is now in charge. Voice Of God Freeman is in jail – that’s about the plot. Oh, and the Maguffin is some super powered computer chip – really? that’s all you got?? – which our magician heroes have to steal. So it’s not so much magic as Oceans 11 reduced to Oceans 4 or 5. But – once again – without the charm.

There’s a good cast here who can’t help but try their best – Eisenberg and Ruffalo in particular of those returning. But the usually completely reliable Harrelson seriously drops the ball with a dreadful turn as his – Basil Exposition-like – suddenly on hand identical twin.

There’s also a really nicely constructed set piece as the group pass a playing card containing said clichéd “super chip” around as they are searched. But it’s the only visually striking moment if a film that is designed to produce moments of wonder and illusion.

All such faults aside, newbie Caplan brings a great dose of sass and more to the proceedings, Michael Caine always lends class to anything, no matter how ropey, and Dan Radcliffe is by far the best thing on offer here – and not just because he has previous with magic, but because he’s really developed into a fine screen actor.

But the whole thing is mired in a screenplay that is not simply dumb, but banal with it. The first movie – surprise hit that it was – earned that surprise with unexpected beats of bravado, a sly wit and a tongue in the cheek of its winking eye. In other words, showing there’s nothing wrong with being daft if, like with any good illusion, you can sell it.

This is, unfortunately, just ill thought, badly staged, and stupid more than implausible. See, they should’ve called it ‘Now You Don’t.’ Because – Now You Shouldn’t.


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