I have conflicting thoughts on Now You See Me 2, the sequel to a film from a couple years ago that I liked. Despite liking the original, I was not sure that a sequel to it was truly required.
Still, I went into this hoping to like the movie.
We pick up a year after the events of the previous movie where our Horsemen were in hiding, being pursued by the FBI, and awaiting orders from the powerful magic group, The Eye. When there is a product reveal of a phone that a company called Octa is releasing that will target people’s privacy, the Horsemen jump into action.
The problem is… it is a trap. The trap is set by our villain of the film, the bearded Daniel Radcliffe. Playing Walter Mabry, who previously faked his own death, Radcliffe kidnaps the Horsemen in order to use their magic/thievery skills to steal a chip that would allow someone a way to get into any computer on the planet. The Horsemen agree to steal the chip, all the while planning on turning it over to The Eye instead.
Meanwhile, Dylan (Mark Ruffalo) is trying desperately to find the Horsemen, despite being outed to the FBI as a mole. Dylan heads to see last film’s villain Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman) because he indicated that he had information to be had. Breaking him out, the pair go in pursuit of the Horsemen.
The actors seem to have a good time here. Lizzy Caplan’s Lula replaced Isla Fisher’s Henley in the cast. I was not overly enamored by the dialogue the script had Caplan delivering. It made her sound very forced and fake. There was also some trouble brewing within the Horsemen as there was some problem between Dylan and Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg). This plot point felt like it was included because they needed a reason for some stuff to happen. It never felt true or organic.
And there is a twin that shows up in this film for absolutely no reason and is absolutely the worst part of this movie. I hated just about everything that this twin was involved in. (I won’t spoil it for you, but I really disliked that character.)
Having said that, I found myself becoming invested in what was happening during the film. Sure, the magic tricks were completely ridiculous and they stretched believably, but I was able to suspend that disbelief for most of them, and they never really pulled me out of the narrative.
However, the ending of Now You See Me 2 really pushed the envelope with me. The biggest problem I had with it was it completely undid the story of the first movie for really no reason. It felt like this film just wanted a twist ending, and what they did changed the first movie for the worse.
Mark Ruffalo had the best performance in the film as his character had the most effective character arc. Ruffalo never fails to deliver in his roles and he brings everything he can to Dylan as well. Looking back on the loss of his father was an effective way to bring more to the character of Dylan, and to show us why he made the choices that he had made.
Daniel Radcliffe is okay in the film, but his character’s motivation was lacking. The only reason I can find is that he lost some money because of the Horsemen. It is also never really shown why he wants this chip stolen. Radcliffe is charismatic and you can hate him pretty easily here so he works as a one-note villain, but there could be so much more.
Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson and Dave Franco were all good here as well. They seem to be comfortable with these characters.
The film really is just a big, dumb movie that asks its audience to accept some outlandish situations at face value. Some of that works and some of it does not. I found myself enjoying more of this movie than I thought I would, only to be bothered by other parts. There are some stylish moments, but many of them lack substance.
I am very split over Now You See Me 2.