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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Now You See Me 2 movie review: now you don’t

Now You See Me 2 red light

The delicately balanced foolishness of Now You See Me gives way to impossibly supernatural magic tricks aimed at thwarting the least menacing villain ever.tweet
I’m “biast” (pro): liked the first movie

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

It was delicately balanced foolishness that allowed Now You See Me to work. No such luck this time out: the second outing with the Four Horsemen, street magicians turned modern-day Robin Hoods, starts out dumb and illogical and rapidly descends into the fantastically idiotictweet.

Jesse Eisenberg (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice), Woody Harrelson (Triple 9), and Dave Franco (Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising) are joined by a new “girl Horseman,” Lizzy Caplan (The Night Before); Isla Fisher wisely chose not to return, perhaps because she realized that no matter how many painfully wannabe-ironic jokes the script makes about the token girl, “the girl Horseman” is still just the token girl.

The secret magic society The Eye that Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight) welcomed them to at the end of the first movie now directs them to hijack a PR event by telecommunications company Octa, because its new cell phone is going to be a disaster for personal privacy… but all the “world of total surveillance” scaremongering the script engages in is nothing but a long game of misdirection, because the movie is not going to be about that. It’s not going to be about anything at all, beyond mounting impossibly supernatural-seeming magic tricks aimed at thwarting the least menacing villain ever (played by Daniel Radcliffe [Victor Frankenstein] in a sad bit of stunt casting).

Scenes go nowhere, tedious info dumps nevertheless fail to explain what is going ontweet, and everyone has daddy issues. The only momentarily amusing moment — it actually made me laugh out loud — was the FBI surveillance van spying on the Horsemen (in London, where the FBI has no remit to operate) that has “FBI” emblazoned in its side. And it’s not even meant to be some sort of double fakeout. It’s just incredibly stupid.


red light 1.5 stars

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Now You See Me 2 (2016)
US/Can release: Jun 10 2016
UK/Ire release: Jul 04 2016

MPAA: rated PG-13 for violence and some language
BBFC: rated 12A (moderate violence)

viewed at a public multiplex screening

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, you might want to reconsider.

  • RogerBW

    Seems like a classic example of a sequel made because the first film made money, not because there were any dangling narrative elements that needed resolving.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Is there a less appealing, less charismatic actor around than Dave Franco? Or is it just his brother’s shadow that creates that effect?

  • And there’s a third one on the way…

  • Both, maybe?

  • RogerBW

    Ah. Back to the Future / Matrix-style film contracting. The first one did so well, we’ll make two sequels!

  • Bluejay

    The first one did so well, we’ll make two sequels!

    That goes back at least as far as Star Wars, surely. Empire wasn’t conceived as a standalone.

  • Jurgan

    No, but they didn’t film it and Jedi simultaneously.

  • Nathan

    Yeah but with those franchises the first one was actually a fun watch, “Now you see me” was just a lame PG version of “The Usual Suspects.”

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