REVIEW: Now You See Me 2
Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, Morgan Freeman
FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
…arrestingly entertaining from beginning to end…
Following the original and not all together terrible Now You See Me, new cast members, Lizzy Caplan and Daniel Radcliffe, join Mark Ruffalo, Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, and Morgan Freeman for a second, stupidly entertaining adventure in Now You See Me 2. Set one year after they outwitted the FBI and won the public’s adulation, The Four Horsemen finally resurface for a comeback performance, where they find themselves on the receiving end of trickery. Now with their lives at risk in an international high-stakes game of cat and mouse, they’re determined to expose a ruthless tech magnate, Walter Mabry (Radcliffe), who has blackmailed the illusionists into pulling off their most impossible heist yet.
The success of the original, which took in a whopping $300 million worldwide, seemed incentive enough for The Horseman to return, with the sequel helmed by Jon M. Chu (Step Up, Justin Bieber: Believe), who takes over from original director, Louis Leterrier. Though his previous credits are nothing to write home about, Chu has solid expertise in directing movement, which he here fuses with technology and cutting-edge design to deliver on the big, bold, and innovative screen magic that the studio was undoubtedly looking for. Because of the intensely choreographed magical feats and stunts, Chu’s dance-direction history really works in his favour; it is, at times, a bit like watching a dance performance.
Going into this film, you would suspect that the writing is terrible – and it is, but in a really good way. Penned by Ed Solomon (who co-wrote the first film with Peter Chiarelli), Now You See Me 2 leans into the fact that the content overall is a little bit cringe-worthy, making a lot of jokes at their own expense throughout. It’s annoyingly endearing, and totally gets you on board. That being said, there are questionable reveals about the characters and their history together. No spoilers, but these insertions are just unnecessary and frustrating, and the film would have been better without them.
What really makes Now You See Me 2 worthwhile though is the cast. Eisenberg gives a layered and nuanced performance as the highly egotistical and slightly awkward Daniel Atlas. Eisenberg really knows how to use his body, gestures, and facial expressions to communicate things that his character isn’t actually saying. Franco and Harrelson are still the fall guys, used mainly for comic relief – though they are both given a chance this time around to add a bit of maturity to their characters. Harrelson is hilarious, and a welcomed tension-cutter to balance out the more intense figures. The real standouts, however, are Ruffalo and new kid on the block, Lizzy Caplan. Replacing original “girl Horseman”, Isla Fisher, Caplan oozes confidence from the very first frame as Lula, over-shadowing her skilled co-stars with her sassy and commanding screen presence. Ruffalo is always on point; his performance is critical to the film, as his penchant for subtle misdirection keeps you guessing against the otherwise predictable plot at every touch point.
Now You See Me 2 is every bit as larger-than-life and stupid as you would expect it to be – but it totally owns it, and that’s what a makes it clever. It asks you to suspend your disbelief way too much, but also makes fun of the fact that it does so. It has all the subtly of a rabid chimp, but it really is arrestingly entertaining from beginning to end. Now You See Me 2 is full of showmanship, charisma and a touch of heart. Not a bad way to spend 129 mins.