The modestly entertaining 2013 film Now You See Me was a fun, albeit slight, piece of pop filmmaking concerning a group of magicians who called themselves The Four Horsemen and built a career out using their talents to make themselves large sums of money by stealing from the wealthy. As an added bonus the film had a built-in revenge subplot that kept the film’s story rolling along at a pretty good clip and provided the kind of entertainment that’s fun while you’re experiencing it but also that evaporates soon thereafter. It had its charms but was hardly the type of thing that was begging for a sequel. That’s mainly because it was fairly evident during that first go round that there wasn’t really enough story to sustain another Now You See Me chapter as all loose ends were pretty well tied up by the film’s end.
Of course the original film was a surprise success at the box office and we all know the bean counters weren’t going to rest until another helping of Now You See Me was served. That would be okay if this was a film that warranted another outing but it’s clear from the creaky plot points in the film that writer Ed Solomon—a gifted screenwriter on better days, by the way—was straining to find enough of a cohesive story to keep this thing from completely jumping off the tracks. The discordant plot strands that eventually come together never seem to feel as if they belong in the same film. Now You See Me 2 is mildly diverting at times but generally unsatisfying on the whole and, by the film’s end, too dull for its own good.
In this outing, The Four Horseman (Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, Jesse Eisenberg), joined by a new female addition, Lulu (Lizzy Caplin, who’s very easy on the eyes here), are recruited by an industrialist (Daniel Radcliffe) to steal a chip of some sort. Meanwhile, the famed magic debunker Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman), incarcerated at the last film’s end, wants revenge against the FBI agent and fifth member of the Four Horsemen (?), Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo). As in the last film there’s trick editing to spare that explains how everything is done via flashbacks, asides, and so on. It all becomes very tedious after awhile.
The cast does their best with what they have offered to them but it really amounts to even less than what the first film amounted to, and yet, the film leaves it open for a sequel that I’m told is already being readied for release next year. Hopefully, Now You See Me 3 will find a compelling story to tell that this one did not.
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