I actually enjoyed the first Now You See Me film, it wasn’t a great film, but it was good fun. Whilst I enjoyed it, I certainly didn’t come out of it needing a sequel, but here we are.
Like I said the first Now You See Me was a good, fun time. This sequel just isn’t. So much of the film just made me irritated with its stupidity (not laugh out loud stupidity which if you read this week’s Top 5 you’ll know I love), just not great film making. There were actually parts of the third act that nearly saved it, but then it just kept letting me down. When I do really like the movie there are explanations of the magic and tricks that are done, and there are parts of the finale that do that really well, but only parts. Others are just painfully bad to watch. There is a heist scene where the Horsemen have to keep a card away from some security guards, it actually starts cool, but descends into a CGI card flying around the room like one of those curved bullets from Wanted.
On top of that another big problem is that the story is just completely uninspired and uninteresting. I mean it, 98% of the film is incredibly predictable. I think they realised that the big twist last time out was too much and took belief out of the film, so this time everything was just easy to see coming at least 20/30 minutes before it did, with the only surprise to me being one that was completely inconsequential.
The ensemble cast that this film assembles is just amazing, even managing to build on the talent from the first. Mark Ruffalo, as you might expect, is probably still one of the best things about the film. I also really like Jessie Eisenberg in these films. Woody Harrelson’s character Merritt has a lot less to do, instead this introduces a second character for Harrelson to play, Merritt’s twin brother Chase. And he’s just awful in this second role, every time Chase is on screen you are begging for him to get off. Dave Franco is doing the exact same thing Franco has done in everything I’ve ever seen him. Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine are doing more of the same from the first film, which is fine, but far from their better work.
The two main new faces that we have are Lizzy Caplan, who replaces Isla Fisher as the female member of the Horsemen, and Daniel Radcliffe. Lizzy Caplan, who is normally a very good actress, is in this case given a seriously annoying character that is a serious downgrade from Isla Fisher’s in the first film. As for Daniel Radcliffe. It feels like the filmmakers were all giving themselves huge slaps on the back for what they thought was the hilarious joke of having Radcliffe in a film about magic, but have him be terrible at magic and completely into science. He’s meant to be the villain of the piece, someone who can intimidate the horseman, but I think that’s a bit out of his range and it just didn’t work for me. He never felt at all menacing.
The thing about magic, as with many films, is that it requires the audience to suspend their disbelief. There were too many times in this film where things went beyond the explainable, but the filmmakers decide to keep it in anyway. That coupled with the fact that this was just such an unnecessary film that no one was clamouring for, and how often I just found things or characters to be annoying or stupid really bugged me. There are more fun films out there, even this summer.