Movie Review : Now You See Me 2 (2016)
Now You See Me was a movie about a small group of daredevil magicians, who were also criminals. But, they were righteous criminals with a strict code of conduct, which enabled them to become crowd pleasers. I know, it's a lot of bullshit crammed in two hours. While it wasn't very good, it did speak of our collective obsession with worshipping entertainers. Now You See Me performed just enough to generate a sequel called Now You See Me 2 (clever, right?) and if you thought the first was bad, this one sinks to embarrassing lows.
Oh, and... spoilers.
So, the sequel picks up a year and a half after the events of Now You See Me. The Horsemen are still hiding out, waiting for instructions from The Eye *. Feeling the group's restlessness, Dylan (Mark Ruffalo), gives them for mission to expose a corrupt businessman who steals data from his service's users. I know, we only call people like that businessmen now. Anyway, the mission shits the bed when the Horsemen get hijacked and exposed themselves on stage, kidnapped and shipped to Macau overnight via a nifty magic trick later explained in the movie. And these are like, the first twenty minutes...
A sequel with a different screenwriter and director should always ring the silent alarm inside your head. It means movie studio executives have complete creative control over a franchise and they're hiring some doers to do their bidding. Jon M. Chu has impressive directing credits such as G.I Joe: Retaliation, Step Up 2: The Streets, Step Up 3D and, of course, Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, to his resume. Can someone explain to me without sounding ridiculous why he was ever considered the right man for a franchise that is supposed to be witty? Oh yeah, it was never witty at all.
But I'm stretching myself thin here, am I? What the fuck is actually wrong with the movie? Everything, but the screenplay is especially bad. Every fifteen minutes or so, Now You See Me 2 writes itself into a corner and subsequently bails itself out by saying everything you've just seen was a magic trick all-along. Or an illusion-based con, if you will. Not only that shit becomes confusing fast, but it torpedoes the stakes even quicker. The Horsemen are never really in danger in Now You See Me 2. Of course, you're not supposed to know that until the very end, but the pattern of everything-being-a-fucking-magic-trick foreshadows the problem.
So, let's talk about that ending, where Michael Caine and Daniel Radcliffe kidnap the Horseman and force them aboard their private plane, throwing them out on mid-air one after the other after they refuse to give out a microchip they stole **. Grim and somewhat Bond-esque, right? Well, surpprriiiseee! It was all a con! The plane had never taken off the ground and the Horsemen are actually performing in front of an audience with the police standing by. Are you wondering what the fuck I'm talking about yet? How is that even possible? How did 10 bad guys didn't realize they were at the wrong place? How did they get the money to coordinate that stunt?
I'm not even sure I understood the explanation myself, so if you want to take a shot at it...
Now You See Me 2 is a silly, triumphant and poorly written celebration of entertainers as sheriffs in a lawless, corporate world dominated by greed. And the magic tricks are not even good. They range from fuck-you-everybody-has-to-been-in-on-it Criss Angel type to Jesse Eisenberg-is-making-the-rain-go-up-so-you-must-think-I'm-stupid. There's nothing nice, clever or entertaining about Now You See Me 2. And there's a Now You See Me 3 coming, for the same reason that we still get Transformers movies: it was profitable in China. I know, right? Better not ask.
* Don't ask. It's self-explanatory in the movie, but you can draw your own conclusions on why there's a "character" named The Eye.
** Again, don't ask. This movie's all over the place.