There’s something rather freeing about knowing something expects almost nothing from you and just wants you to go along with the ride that it sets before you. In reality, Now You See Me 2 doesn’t really qualify as anything more than pretty nonsense but it is some very well executed nonsense that you can’t help but have fun with.
It’s been a year since the Four Horsemen (Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, and Dave Franco) have outwitted the FBI and won the adoration of the public, but they’ve been lying low and are itching to get back into the spotlight along with their newest recruit (Lizzy Caplan). However things don’t quite go as planned as the Horseman and their enigmatic handler (Mark Ruffalo) get exposed forcing them to go on the run into the clutches of a new villain (Daniel Radcliffe) who is forcing them into pulling off what just might their most dangerous and complex heist to date.
Think the Ocean’s series but without the genuine character development and wit and you basically have the Now You See Me series in a nut shell and in this second installment things skate across the surface in a delightful fashion as it sets up the inevitable third installment of the franchise.
Director Jon M. Chu takes over the centre seat for the franchise and much like the Step Up franchise that he cut his teeth on, this is a fast piece, fun and pretty action romp. However unlike other similar films out there, this movie is designed to skip along the surface and never get bogged down in any one spot. Chu hops from location to location with ease and seemingly has a lot of fun shooting in the bright lights of Macau for a good chunk of the narrative. He’s never someone who will go in-depth with character work and the screenplay from Ed Solomon definitely focuses more on the speed and the action of the story rather than trying to get to know the characters behind the magic. It’s spectacularly flashy, but much like the magic tricks on display in the film, there is hardly any substance. At the very least it’s the kind of film where you can tell that everyone involved is at least having some fun along the way.
The story moves so damn fast, it’s hard to genuinely attach yourself to any of the characters, but Eisenberg & Ruffalo are solid as per the norm while Woody Harrelson gets to tackle a duel role that we won’t spoil for you here and Lizzy Caplan certainly can match the female energy that the departing Isla Fisher brought to the first one. On the flipside of the coin, Sanaa Lathan is OK as the FBI task leader set out to bring down the Horseman, while the returning Michael Caine & Morgan Freeman are both having more fun than should really be allowed with the exception of maybe Daniel Radcliffe who chews the scenery basically doing his best Michael Caine impersonation.
There’s really nothing wrong with Now You See Me 2 and it works as a comedic action romp that doesn’t want you to over think anything too much, plus with a third installment already green lit there is more of this fluffy summer action in store for us all at the very least so that everyone involved can keep their pools heated and their summer houses paid for.