So it turns out, the things critics complained about in 2013’s Now You See Me would’ve been better off untouched. While not producing a perfect movie in the first installment, the opposite ends up happening here.
On the other hand, much like the first one, Now You See Me 2 has the mind-bending entertainment taken care of. It holds the same charm that was present in its predecessor–perhaps even more. However, there are just a few things that are problematic.
For one, the audience constantly feels like they’re missing something–like they’re always behind in what’s going on. And not because of natural occurrences in the narrative, but because the filmmakers simply want us to be. Which is odd, seeing that this time we’re actually in on most of the tricks.
In Now You See Me, we’re given the story through the FBI agent’s point of view–always on the other side of the magic. In the sequel, we’re mostly given the point of view of the four magicians, so we’re deeply involved behind the scenes. The former situation was a major complaint of the first film, but now that I’m seeing the alternative, I think I would rather things be back to normal. And even though it’s worth it in the end, the whole time prior you just sit there, frustrated, not wanting to be in on the trick, trying to mentally disassemble all the rigmarole in the meantime.
Two years following the events of the first film, the Four Horsemen (played by Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, and Lizzy Caplan) must remain in hiding for fear of the FBI. But they’re growing impatient waiting for further instructions. Caplan replaces Isla Fisher as the female in the group. She’s very unfunny–even when she so desperately tries to be–making us wish Fisher was back.
The clan ends up in China where they are forced into working for a rich businessman (Daniel Radcliffe) who faked his own death and is supposed to be dead to the rest of the world. Radcliffe’s brilliantly evil persona is far from the paladin, Harry Potter, as this may be his most mainstream role since.
Morgan Freeman also returns with his character still in prison, because, for some reason, he can’t seem to prove his innocence yet. Freeman is a key cog because he’s what connects Ruffalo’s character to his father’s death as a child.
Also differing from the first film, the first two acts are the weakest part. Waiting for things to get better towards the end, we sit through a magic trick-less setup that’s more confusing than interesting. We do, however, get “treated” to an unnecessary card-flinging scene that just ends up being silly and five minutes too long.
Does a good ending make up for a meandering 90 minutes? I guess it might if those 90 minutes are pertinent to the climax. And in this case, they are. But things may be a little too intricate to be cherished in the long run (something untrue for the first film). Maybe it deserves another watch. Maybe then will things be more clear. Because even after it’s all explained to us, things wind up being overly complicated, but I guess you just have to trust that it all makes sense. If you’re okay living like that.