Friday, June 10, 2016

Now You See Me 2: Movie Review

Bigger, bolder nonsense that is just as fun.

With the original Now You See Me ending with a twist so spectacularly absurd that it goes from improbable to ludicrous rendering the entire film a farce, it seems a sequel is just gratuitous. Perhaps they know that; the first one did make decent money after all. But their task here is much harder, they have to go bigger, bolder, and more ridiculous than the first time around. Surprisingly, they did that without making it worse.   2016

Directed by: Jon M. Chu

Screenplay by: Ed Soloman

Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, Lizzy Caplan, Mark Rufffalo

Overall the sequel is not better either, but they did improve a few elements. One of the most surprising upgrades was Lizzy Caplan over Isla Fisher. Fisher was pregnant when production on the film began, but I still wouldn’t blame her for leaving after being saddled with a sexist role involving wearing sexy outfits and having a romance-only storyline. I did think the film would miss her since she generally has a sparky and warm screen presence, but the role they wrote for Caplan is just so much better, that the film doesn’t just not miss a beat, it actually develops a whole new engaging rhythm.

Lula (Caplan) is a new magician, very capable, snarky and quick-witted, and she earns herself a role in the Four Horsemen without breaking a sweat. But even better, she subverts the non-step sexist assumptions that are placed on her throughout the film. A marked improvement over Henley’s role in the first film.

Another small improvement (if we call it that) was instead of just building up to one big twist, we had multiple twists throughout the whole film. Which on one level just makes the whole film nonsense, but on the other hand, at least you’re not following a story just to be let down. The film attempts to take you an whirlwind adventure around the world (and it really is around the world with stops in Macao, Las Vegas and London) with dazzling tricks and only half-explaining them.

The second new character added is Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe), a villain, and an officially-dead tech billionaire who’s attempting to blackmail the Four Horsemen. Radcliffe is clearly channelling a Chris Pine in “Horrible Bosses 2” or “Stretch”, but takes it too far and turns into a caricature. Instead of being so crazy, he’s funny, he’s just way too crazy, and not funny.

The magic tricks of the Four Horsemen are still just as entertaining as they were in the first film, which ends up placing the film on the same level. It’s fun, but don’t look too closely otherwise it’s just utter nonsense.