When I’ve read reviews of Now You See Me 2, the key terms used were “not quite smart but fun”. Even Keith Barry‘s interviewer on the night of the premiere, RTE’s Eoin McDermott, called it fun. After watching the film, I can safely say that if you can leave the ridiculous plot points behind, it can be just that; it can be an entertaining two hours. It also helps that some of the seemingly ridiculous tricks in the movie (even the much publicised rain going upward trick performed by Jesse Eisenberg) are explained realistically through the course of the film. There is also the assertion from our special guest for the evening, Keith Barry, that about 90% of the ‘magic’ was actually performed without special effects.
Now You See Me 2 picks up about a year after the plot of the first film with a helpful reminder of what happened via a nice little performance from Morgan Freeman via video link. The Four Horsemen (now three, minus Isla Fisher) are still in hiding since their last heist and Freeman‘s Thaddeus Bradley is locked up and framed for the aforementioned heist. He plans comeuppance but that is not the team’s only concern as during an attempt at their usual do-gooding by exposing a tech giant who is secretly storing and selling private details, they are kidnapped and brought to Macau in China by the henchman of a new baddie.
Although as irritating to the audience as she is to the team members, Isla Fisher‘s replacement Lizzy Caplan (Mean Girls) added some fun, humour and more realistic performer failings to the mix. She certainly voices some audience concerns about the stereotypical sexism towards females in the illusion business and gives as good as she gets.
Daniel Radcliffe‘s “narcissistic little man-child” also added humour and although he began as more of a joke Draco Malfoy-esque ‘let me tell daddy’ character, he does become more of a sadistic little ‘see you next Tuesday’ if you get my meaning. The humour remains to the bitter end, much in the feeling of a Bond villain. This was an interesting departure for Radcliffe and he certainly wasn’t afraid of a less serious approach to a role than he is used to. He even played it cool when the British stereotype of drinking tea was added to the mix. His maniacal laugh leaves a bit to be desired though.
Most of the same cast from Now You See Me return so this is an indication that the script was strong enough. Dave Franco is very talented with cards and although his character presents little emotional depth, this real-life skill is enough to keep the audience charmed by him. Fellow cast have raved about how good he was at cards in real life and this shines through in the film.
Jesse Eisenberg presents himself almost similar to his role in The Social Network as someone who does not really like playing with others and aspires to lead. Some have called him arrogant regarding comments he made about playing Lex Luthor so it’s hard to tell if he is playing himself or not. That said, his character bears the brunt of the most fantastical illusions so this will make you like him just enough to not dismiss him altogether.
If you are not put off by the needless use of Woody Harrleson playing a brother character with stupid hair jokes (which adds to the silly plotlines argument), you will see that his abilities at hypnotising people to sleep is a useful part of the plot. Last and by no means least, Mark Ruffalo adds the emotional and dramatic heft needed to make this a feelgood film. He is the cast member that acts as the glue, both for the film and for the team of magicians.
As I have noted, this film is by no means award winning material, nor does it match up to the extraordinary feats of its predecessor, but it is something worth watching for the entertainment value and the pretty visuals. Some things irked me, however, from Woody Harrelson playing his own ridiculous brother to the word FBI being plastered over the supposedly secret surveillance van. Of course the technology the team are acquired to steal is probably a bit like science-fiction and we wonder how the baddie could know about the supposedly secret Eye society at one point.
Maybe I’m a sucker for nerds beating violence and millionaires with magic but leave your serious face behind and enjoy the film for what it is! Now You See Me 2 hits Irish cinemas next Monday, July 4.