Movie Review: ‘NOW YOU SEE ME 2’ – all tricks, no logic


James Cole Clay // Film Critic

NOW YOU SEE ME 2 | 117 min | PG-13
Director: John M. Chu
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Dave Franco, Mark Ruffalo, Lizzy Caplan, Woody Harrelson, Daniel Radcliffe, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman

NOW YOU SEE ME 2 is a film filled with phonies and charlatans. The sequel to the relatively fun magician-based heist film makes zero effort to build upon its premise, which is frivolous and just plain silly.

Director John M. Chu’s film is a blur of CGI trickery that bares zero weight, because it’s impossible for ticket holders to suspend their disbelief without sacrificing their intelligence for two hours.

The Four Horsemen consists of leader and illusionist J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), card throwing guy Jack Wilder (Dave Franco), hypnotist and proud wearer of fedoras Merritt McKinney and newbie Lula (the under appreciated Lizzy Caplan replacing Isla Fisher) have been on the lamb searching for a mysterious group called “The Eye.” With the help of double agent/illusionist himself Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo), they are finally able to make some headway in their cause.

The mystique revolving the Horsemen and “The Eye” is apparent and quite intriguing on the surface, but these elaborate illusions are impossibly absurd. There’s supposed to be a villain in the form of the Walter (Daniel Radcliffe), but I couldn’t tell you what his mission was other than to steal some sort of computer chip and hang out with his illegitimate father (Michael Caine).

Left to Right Mark Ruffalo Jesse Eisenberg, Lizzy Caplan, Wood Harrelson, Dave Franco, Daniel Radcliffe, Michael Caine (photo courtest of Summit Entertainment)

L-R: Mark Ruffalo Jesse Eisenberg, Lizzy Caplan, Wood Harrelson, Dave Franco, Daniel Radcliffe and Michael Caine. Photo courtesy of Summit Entertainment.

The rubbish plotting has nothing remarkable going on visually or emotionally within its characters. The scenes are concerned with showing off how fast Wilder can throw a cartoon Queen of Hearts while cracking wise (which Franco sells well), or having somebody randomly explaining convoluted exposition that’s one of many overwhelming aspects.

The light-hearted tone wants you to think these are the smartest people on the planet, but the film sets zero ground rules. Anything can be undone with a 90-second explanation that makes excuses — disguised as a sleight of hand — for its plot holes and undercuts any sense of wonder the narrative had built.

NOW YOU SEE ME 2 has five Academy Award-winning actors who get wafer thin moments of developement that are there to check a few emotional boxes. Taiwanese star Jay Chou boasts all the charisma as a mysterious magic shop owner is thrown under the bus– audiences will barely even register his presence.

As the film goes on and starts to drown in its own tomfoolery, the red herrings become less and less a factor and the acting aggressively loses its meaning. This is punctuated by a dreadful dual performance by two-time Academy Award nominated Woody Harrelson, playing twins no less.

Despite what people may say magic makes for compelling filmmaking and this campy premise should work when done practically and efficiently, but NOW YOU SEE ME 2 fails to pull any sort of logic out of its hat. For those interested the sequel NOW YOU THREE ME will be in theaters come 2017.

NOW YOU SEE ME 2 opens tomorrow.

About author

James C. Clay

James Cole Clay has been working as a film critic for the better part of a decade covering new releases, blu ray reviews and the occasional drive-in cult classic. His writing is dedicated to discovering social politics through diverse voices, primarily focusing on Women In Film and LGBTQ cinema.