Review for Now You See Me 2
Once again I jumped the gun, buying a movie, learning that it has a sequel, and then also buying that before I have seen the original and made a judgement. It was almost a mistake when I did it with the Expendables trilogy, but thankfully that series improved with each film. When I watched the original Now You See Me, I found I quite liked it, an entertaining action caper, a con movie made with the perfect confidence tricks, stage magic! I’m expecting good things from Now You See Me 2.
It’s been a year since the Four Horsemen pulled the ultimate con on Arthur Tressler and Thaddeus Bradley, a year in which the four have stayed undercover, well three of them, as escapologist Henley Reeves tired of that and left the group. Meanwhile Dylan Rhodes continues his pursuit of the Four Horseman at the FBI, while dodging suspicion. They do have a new recruit though, geek magician Lula joining Daniel Atlas, Jack Wilder, and Merritt McKinney. The moment for their comeback arrives, unmasking a greedy businessman harvesting and selling data from his company’s new smartphones, at the launch party for the device. Only they get unmasked themselves, and wind up in Macao. An eccentric recluse named Walter Mabry has a job for them, stealing a revolutionary computer chip, and he won’t take no for an answer.
The film gets a 2.40:1 widescreen 1080p transfer that is clear and sharp, with strong consistent colours. Detail levels are excellent, and there are no problems with aliasing or visible compression. The sequel also backs off the orange & teal of the original delivering a more nuanced colour palette. You have the choice between Dolby Atmos (TrueHD 7.1 core), and Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo English, and there is also a DD 2.0 audio descriptive track too, all with optional English subtitles. I was very happy with the immersive and impressive surround track, which keeps the dialogue clear, and also brings the film’s distinctive music soundtrack to life for the second time.
You get one disc in a BD Amaray wrapped in an o-card. The disc eventually gets to an animated menu, following trailers for Arrival, A Monster Calls, The BFG, David Brent: Life on the Road, and an advert for a chocolate confectionary.
You get a listenable commentary from director John M. Chu.
The Art of the Ensemble lasts 21:10 HD and looks at the cast.
You Can’t Look Away examines the sets and locations. This lasts 17:13 HD.
Naturally there would be a featurette about the film’s magic, and Bringing Magic to Life lasts 16:07.
Where do you go after a successful con movie? Your lovable rogues have just pulled the greatest con of their careers, leaving an absolute villain dejected and destitute. Just what do you do in the sequel? Well, that absolute villain is going to want revenge... It’s not an original thought by the way, that’s what the Ocean’s franchise did to somewhat dismal effect. Now You See Me 2 does much the same thing, although its definition of just who a villain is in this film is a little more fluid.
Now You See Me 2 is certainly fun. It’s a great way to waste two hours, with some spellbinding magical mayhem and more of the witty and sharp character interactions as the first film. It actually improves on the original by doing more of its magic in camera, and by being less reliant on CGI. And while we have a new character in Lula replacing Henley from the first film, she’s got a quirky and playful personality that fits right in, a nice comedic balance to the Daniel Atlas character, the way that Jack Wilder and Merritt McKinney bounce off each other.
The ‘Sneakers’ chip (hack any computer in the world), is a bit of a sci-fi Maguffin, conveniently flexible and shaped like a playing card to allow for one of the film’s impressive set pieces. They are impressive too, with Mark Ruffalo engaging in some quick-witted fighting action in a Macao market that is the match of anything from a classic Jackie Chan movie.
But in the end, Now You See Me 2 just doesn’t enthral me in the same way that the original did. Its plot is messier, less elegant, and there’s never the same kind of hook that the original film had. I wasn’t invested in the story, I had no burning desire to know how the magic was done, certainly not in the same way that I had with the original film. It doesn’t help that we know most of the back story, about Dylan Rhodes, about Lionel Shrike, about Arthur Tressler and Thaddeus Bradley. The first film left its reveals for when the impact on the audience would be most effective, in the sequel, the few revelations that are left feel like an afterthought. Now You See Me 2 is a lot of fun to watch, but its drama is insipid, not helped by a rather misjudged double role for Woody Harrelson as the McKinney brothers. Still, Daniel Radcliffe does give good psychopath.