by Sam Robinson
Rated M. Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Daniel Radcliffe. Directed by Jon M. Chu.
In the age of film titles dropping sequel numbers for imaginative subtitles – I’m looking at you Sharknado: The Second One – Now You See Me 2 misses the opportunity to create a little magic. I mean, why not call it Now You Don’t?
Again, Now You See Me 2 sees The Four Horsemen magic troupe chasing fame on the worldwide magic stage (with Isla Fisher switched for Lizzy Caplan) – now while on the run from the FBI. They’ve spent three years in hiding since the first film, and if you (like me) struggle to remember what happened in the original, you’ll have a little trouble catching up. In fact, when Michael Caine shows up as evil Arthur Tressler – if you can’t remember his character from the first film, you’ll be lost. Director Jon M. Chu relies on a lot of assumed knowledge.
The thing that made the first film so much fun is that it contained the risk of heist film mixed with the glitz of a magic spectacular. Here, there is lots of the same, but perhaps more predictable. The Horsemen do their best to display their magic skills on a massive public platform while outwitting tech prodigy Walter (Radcliffe, clearly suffering from magic movie withdrawals). There are more twists and turns, but there’s an overall sense of deja vu. And there’s plenty of sequences that don’t make much sense at all – such as one where a microchip is flipped between the Horsemen for seemingly no reason at all (other than a dizzying tracking shot). It’s still fun to watch, and as always, the best trick is saved for the grand finale.
What’s so interesting in each of the Horsemen is their pursuit of fame. The FBI want to find them and lock them up, but they can’t help but appear in busy public places to work magic. There’s a scene where Danny (Eisenberg) seemingly controls the weather – and it struck me that these magicians see themselves like a god – they want to be worshipped and adored. Jesus however performed legit miracles – no magic – and his goal was not to glorify himself, but his heavenly Father. He had real power and authority, and was raised from death so that those who trust in him might be too.
The Verdict: Now You See Me 2 is an enjoyable popcorn flick, but feels familiar. Like you’ve seen this trick before… 3/5
Now You See Me 2 is screening now in cinemas worldwide.