Now You See Me 2 (2016)
Now You See Me 2 (2016)

Genre: Thriller Running Time: 2 hrs. 9 min.

Release Date: June 10th, 2016 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Jon M. Chu Actors: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, Daniel Radcliffe, Lizzy Caplan, Jay Chou, Sanaa Lathan, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Tsai Chin




fter successfully executing their heist of millions from corrupt businessman Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine), the “Four Horsemen” magicians go into hiding to evade capture. But laying low for a year doesn’t sit well with headstrong Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), who ignores leader Dylan Rhodes’ (Mark Ruffalo) assertions to remain patient. Instead, he secretly contacts the Eye, the mythical organization that cryptically controls the band of thieves.

Shortly thereafter, Rhodes gathers the Horsemen together for their next assignment and to introduce them to new recruit Lula May (Lizzy Kaplan). When their plot to expose unethical communications company Octa goes awry, resulting in the Horsemen’s identities being revealed to the world, they become ensnared in a trap devised by ruthless tech genius Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe). Forced to steal a computer chip from Mabry’s longtime rival, Atlas, May, Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson), and Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) must outwit both hunter and prey, all while staying one step ahead of the FBI agent (Sanaa Lathan) hot on their trail and the scheming magic-debunker, Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman), hellbent on revenge.

Revisiting the perilous underworld of magicians sounds like an antonymous event – and it most certainly is. Still teetering on the ludicrous brink of a 007 adventure filled with the sarcastic jokers of “Ocean’s Eleven,” this crew of heisters more closely resembles special forces soldiers or secretive government agents than amateur stage magicians, even if they call themselves “Elite Magic Society” members. With a plot of “Mission: Impossible”-styled infiltration and theft, there’s really no room for magicians at all. And, once again, it seems that all aspiring illusionists want to be like Robin Hood. What ever happened to doing magic tricks for the sake of entertainment?

A vengeful, villainous discreditor takes the place of a James Bond supervillain, while the FBI – and any other form of law enforcement – is so meaningless that it’s easy to forget their purpose every quarter-hour when they briefly rear their heads. At the same time, there isn’t enough written into the story to require one-to-two Horsemen, let alone the four-to-five that actually frequent the picture, or the bevy of whiny evildoers who attempt to manipulate the protagonists like puppets. And this doesn’t even take into account the actual culprit behind the figurehead villain, or the ringleader prestidigitator behind all the human pawns ushered about on a global chessboard – or Woody Harrelson’s dual role as a twin, which has to be one of the most unnecessary gimmicks ever employed.

Once again, the biggest problem with this film is the depiction of magic. Every trick is not simple sleight-of-hand or misdirection, but rather outrageously overcomplicated feats of absurdity – so extreme that only computer-generated imagery can be used to represent them. Since moviemaking itself is something of a deception, this dependence on utterly unbelievable cheats of matter and energy – which could have been possible through editing techniques alone – only dulls the sense of wonderment. None of the illusions performed are even remotely engaging, especially considering that after each one is demonstrated, a flashback has to rudely interrupt the action to explain how it was orchestrated. Certainly, none of it is inspirational. Like “The Game” (1997), a constant dubiousness presides over every endeavor, introducing perpetual doubt as to the truthfulness of the storytelling. By the end, viewers will wish it was all just a big dream sequence.

If it weren’t bad enough that all of the phantasms were designed specifically to make the audience feel stupid, the characters appear to be scripted to be deliberately annoying, as if to provoke further agitation. Everyone is overly confident – or they sit in the background, silently being smarter than everyone else. Repartee and flirtation hope to distract the audience from the unoriginality of the various missions, each involving time, training, and resources that couldn’t possibly be available.

And, most distressing of all, are the plot holes (or elements of laziness), which are so large and numerous that the entirety of the Thames could be poured into them. Language barriers and deadly weapons never present problems; the Horsemen are acknowledged and welcomed in every country as if universal celebrities, despite the fact that they’re wanted criminals who have been in hiding for a year (even in specialized product launch events they’re applauded as if superheroes crashing a party); geographical inconsistencies and the passing of time are completely ignored; the planning and coordination of various ruses are conducted mostly offscreen, as if in an alternate universe where nothing can interfere with them; hypnotization is conjured up continuously with total effectiveness, as if Jedi Masters were commanding the weak-minded; and characters survive daring ordeals that would normally require diving equipment or Olympic training or animal wranglers or, at the very least, plenty of implanted assistants ready to feign shock or surprise (at one point, a random street-crowd onlooker has a pigeon fly out of his pants). For a movie all about precise plotting and skillful swindles, it sure is sloppy.

– The Massie Twins

  • 2/10