“Now You See Me 2” is the sequel to the surprise 2013 hit, “Now You See Me” (they missed a golden opportunity by not calling this “Now You Don’t”). Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson and Dave Franco all reprise their roles as Daniel Radcliffe, Lizzy Caplan and Jay Chou join the cast. This time the Four Horsemen must steal a device capable of tracking and erasing all data from any computer, while still being on the run from the FBI. Jon M. Chu, director of such thrillers as “Step Up 3D” and “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never,” takes over here.
The first “Now You See Me” was a stupid film that thought it was smart, and despite some entertaining bits it dragged along before a laughably implausible finale. No one really asked for this sequel yet here we are, and the second act of this series is quite literally more of the same: the film looks great and is fun in bursts, but overall mistakes randomness for cleverness.
Much like the first film, the all-star cast elevates this with seemingly dedicated performances. Even though romps such as this are below the talent level of the likes of Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine, they don’t ham it up and sleepwalk through their roles (here’s looking at you, Jennifer Lawrence in “Apocalypse”). Jesse Eisenberg, fresh off ranting in “Batman v Superman,” gives some charming sarcastic lines and newcomer Lizzy Caplan injects the film with some shots of energy.
But the cast is really where the compliments end with this thing. As any magician will tell you (and the film will beat you over the head repeating), the most important aspect of a trick is misdirection, and the film hopes its talented and attractive cast (ugh, have you seen Dave Franco lately?) will distract you from the messy and unintelligent pot going on right in front of your eyes.
Much like the first film, this expects you to have your jaw drop at the big twists and reveals; only just like the first time, there aren’t any clues along the way or logic to back anything up. The film essentially points at a curtain and says there is a dog behind it, only to drop the curtain and have it be a cat, but expects you to wonder how it isn’t a dog. If that analogy made sense then great, you know how senseless this movie is; if you didn’t get what I was going for then the film’s stupid logic won’t make any sense to you, either.
There is a sequence in the middle of the film that perfectly summarizes the entire experience: when the group is stealing the device, they must hide it in a playing card and sneak it through security. What starts off as playful and entertaining soon drags on for (at least) five minutes and it loses any and all whimsical nature about it. And that is what “Now You See Me 2” is: a film that starts off fun but soon wears out its welcome, and no amount of faux twists or Dave Francos can change that.
Critics Rating: 4/10