Release date: 4th July 2016/Watch the trailer here
Now You See Me was a surprise hit of 2013, a film centred around a team of illusionists pulling off bank heists with an all-star cast. Unfortunately, as is so often the way with sequels, Now You See Me 2 may have the same stellar cast as its predecessor, but it shares very little of the qualities that made Now You See Me such a success.
In Now You See Me 2, the illusionists, known as The Four Horsemen – comprising of Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), Merritt (Woody Harrelson), Jack (Dave Franco) and newcomer Lula (Lizzy Caplan, replacing Isla Fisher), as well as their FBI agent leader, Dylan (Mark Ruffalo) – resurface for a comeback performance. However, they find themselves swept away – as if by magic – to China, where a young tech prodigy, Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe) threatens them into pulling off their most impossible heist yet.
And in defence of Now You See Me 2, it retains all of the flash, flare and magic of the original. The film is at its best when the Horsemen are carrying off their illusions: from Atlas making rain fall in reverse, to a slick, stylish sleight of hand sequence involving all four Horsemen.
Unfortunately, the film needs a substantial plot alongside the magic tricks, and this is where Now You See Me 2 falls flat. The plot becomes far too convoluted, with shock reveal after shock reveal (this character is actually this character’s son and this character was actually a good guy all along) occurring so frequently that they fail to be shocking at all. This is a film that, much like its characters, think it’s far cleverer than it actually is, with the result being little more than a complicated mess. Now You See Me 2 works to set the stage for the third piece of the puzzle, but it makes the mistake of thinking that anyone particularly cares about the mysteries and plot twists that it so coyly hints at. Harry Potter this is not.
Speaking of Harry Potter, it is so incredibly difficult to watch Daniel Radcliffe talk about magic with a straight face.
Still, at least Radcliffe actually tries. Now You See Me 2 is packed with half-hearted performances from successful, established actors who probably felt like they could have been doing something better with their time.
But by far the worst performance of the film, surprisingly, comes from Woody Harrelson – not as hypnotist Merritt McKinney, but as his annoying twin brother, Chase, in what is such a goofy – not to mention completely and utterly pointless – move that it’s hard to believe that it’s a character from the same film as everyone else.
At the end of the day, Now You See Me 2 is an entertaining popcorn flick with a good cast, some fun scenes, and a silly plot. This would all be standard procedure for a summer blockbuster, but it’s the fact that Now You See Me was so surprisingly good that makes this sequel so unsurprisingly disappointing.