Hot Take: More style and less substance than the first. Not awful but nothing you’ll be disappointed to miss.
The original Now You See Me was fun. It wasn’t deep or overly memorable but it definitely had a lot of shine. As it meandered along, it worked so well because it caught you by surprise. By the sequel, you knew what to expect. The element of surprise was reduced to practically nothing. Sure, the tricks are bigger but they’re harder to believe and not like “how’d they do that?” hard to believe but “was that really magic or just camera tricks?” As for the story, it’s hard to imagine you’ll get as invested in the second installment as you would in the first. The stake aren’t higher and the twists have road signs now pointing you in which direction the film is going to turn next.
The movie has a few new tricks up its sleeve that aid the film. Lizzy Caplan replaces Isla Fisher as the girl member of the Horsemen. Daniel Radcliffe is added to the cast in a villainous role. Both have wonderful introductions then manage to disappear into the inner workings of the film. Overcrowding (a phenomenon many movies have suffered from this year) may be the film’s biggest problem as some characters fail to stand out as more minor characters earn some screen time.
For the first hour or so, Now You See Me 2 does a nice job of revisiting the things that worked in the original. As the film progresses, There’s an overriding feeling that maybe NYSM2 is trying too hard. In the original, there was a sense of wonder that is rarely present in the second film. Some of the tricks are just too big and too cinematic to buy. The traveling card scene highlighted in the trailer is probably the biggest letdown. It’s hard to imagine such a sleight of hand being possible but when meticulously shot with cameras zoomed in on the movement of the card it’s even less believable. It’s a shame, too, because the cast is great and there are a few fun moments. Unfortunately, they are just few and far between.
While going to the movie is still magical, the follow up to the magically successful Now You See Me only has one real trick up its sleeve. Bigger becomes smaller. Abracadabra!
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- Introductions of Caplan & Radcliffe
Both join the cast with a bang. Too bad they can’t maintain the level of intensity with which they join Now You See Me 2. Caplan holds up better than Radcliffe as she has at least one or two more charming moments throughout the film. We’ll get back to Radcliffe.
- There’s Still Some Magic Left
If you can suspend disbelief, the magic tricks in the film are fun to watch and if you can even half believe they are possible, it makes the movie’s enjoyment level levitate a little.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- Now What?
After introducing Radcliffe, he fades into the background of the film. It’s almost as if someone had an idea that attaching Harry Potter to a movie about magicians would be catchy enough to give the movie yet another reason to be seen other than they obvious reasons people see sequels. Unfortunately, his character becomes a waste of resources. A problem the film has exponentially.
- The Year of Sequelitis
2016 continues to produce sequel after sequel which employ the philosophy “bigger is better” yet disprove it time and again. Of the 60 movies to hit 1,000+ theaters, 18 have been sequels.
- Woody Harrelson Part Deux
Sorry but Woody Harrelson’s character having a twin brother just doesn’t work.