While Now You See Me 2 is a fine title for a sequel because it utilizes the multiple meanings in the word ‘two’, it would probably be preferable if the film had just never been shot and they went with the title Now You Don’t.
This magician sequel follows our same “Horsemen” one year after their last stunt. Well, it follows all of the Horsemen except for Isla Fisher’s character, who does not appear in this film due to Fisher’s pregnancy. That’s okay though, the movie can just replace Fisher with Lizzy Caplan because the movie doesn’t really care about women. Anyway, the new Four Horseman are recruited by a tech genius to steal a computer chip that can hack all computers, but the Horsemen have something else up their sleeves.
Whoa, what was that about Now You See Me 2 not caring about women? Oh, yeah. Now You See Me 2 is pretty sexist. Not sexist in an overt way, but sexist in a Hollywood way. Not only is one female character swapped out for another with little to no care or explanation, but this new female character is constantly shut down by the characters around her. Sometimes the movie acknowledges its sexism, sometimes is doesn’t. Worse off, the movie relegates Lizzy Caplan’s character to being an underdeveloped love interest. It is clear that very little effort was put into these characters, and they’re mostly there to fill a quota, which is the worst way to do it. It’s not like the first film was even remotely progressive, but it’s disappointing that there has been no improvement between the movies. Unfortunately, this sexism is probably the most accurate part of the film, as it mirrors the real magic world.
Another similarity between this movie and the first film is that it is absolutely ridiculous. All seven Saw films don’t have as many idiotic twists and turns as these movies have. It’s like the filmmakers watched a M. Night Shyamalan marathon and decided to make a movie composed of only twists. Yes, the whole point of these magic films is to try and pull the wool over the audience’s eyes, but this doesn’t work when nothing makes any sense whatsoever. At some point, the audience is forced to simply watch the movie out of spite. There are no stakes when the filmmakers are just going to make up the rules as they go.
The problem is that not only does the movie not make any sense, but it takes itself really seriously. It has the tone of an intense crime thriller with a couple jokes, when it is begging to be a comedy with a couple intense moments. There isn’t any self-awareness in how stupid the film’s script is, and that seriously prevents the audience from having any fun.
That’s especially annoying because the film’s cast is top class. Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine have both won Oscars, while Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo and Woody Harrelson have all been nominated. There’s a lot of talent here, but no one seems to be having a ton of fun with it. Harrelson gets to play a double role in the film, and he seems to be having fun with this second part, but considering that this is the only character that is having a good time, it’s hard for the audience to support the movie.
That said, the thing that keeps the movie from being unbearable is the visuals. There are some stunning magic tricks throughout that keep the audience engaged. It’s nothing that exclaims ‘how did they do that???’, but it’s visually stimulating. Too much thinking will render the movie null and void, but it maintains a fast pace and has some strong imagery. However, it is not at all deserving of a sequel. Hopefully the franchise will stop here, before everyone is forced to ‘see’ them.