NOW YOU SEE ME 2 – A Wizard Did It

Now You See Me 2

Directed by Jon M Chu
Starring Mark Ruffalo, Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson

The tale of four stage magicians carrying out Robin Hood like heists using illusion became the sleeper hit of 2013. Now under new director Jon M Chu (Step Up 2: The Streets) the question is, can the same trick work twice?

While staging a comeback The Horseman, meet with disaster as find themselves kidnapped, and their secretive Fifth Horseman outed. Now Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg) , Jack (Dave Franco), Merritt (Woody Harrelson), and new-comer Lulu (Lizzy Caplan) are forced to plan a heist for evil tech-mogul, Walter (Daniel Radcliffe). Meanwhile Dylan (Mark Ruffalo) seeks the aid of an old enemy to determine what is really going on.

In a film all about distraction, it certainly lives up to its name. There is a lot of flash and movement to divert the focus away from the actual trick. Exotic locations, daring escapes, magic street fights, international manhunts, big name stars and glitzy magic tricks, Now You See Me 2 is packed with the right ingredients to dazzle an audience. Everything you would need to keep the focus pointed in one direction, while you work your magic trick ready for the big reveal.

The film just somehow forgot about that last bit. There is nothing underlying all this. No great last minute twist. No sense of intricacy to the plot. Nothing.

Cobbling together various plot threads of the first film this tries to weave a sequel plot out of it, and the results are threadbare. The sloppy writing leaves nothing in terms of stakes or tension. This becomes apparent pretty early on, and soon the antics of The Horsemen start seeming like pointless grind till the inevitable grand reveal and vindication for the plucky magicians.  Everything does happen, as if by magic, rather than following any internal logic or reasoning. The end result manages the grand trick of being both confusing and entirely predictable at the same time.

Worst still, the film’s ensemble cast seems to know this, and are sleep walking through their roles. Ruffalo looks to be barely conscious, his melancholy more like boredom. Harrelson may have fun doing double duty by playing his evil twin, but it is such a gaudy performance it’s parody. Radcliffe is in a similar boat, as although his “evil Harry Potter” is humorous, it grows stale quickly.

There’s no magic here, rather a well worn act that audiences have seen before. Just smoke and mirrors.