Now You See Me was a big surprise. Most people I know thought it would be another garbage heap churned out of the system. The shock that I liked that movie still hasn’t worn off and when the second film teaser dropped I was optimistic. That’s something I rarely feel when sequels are involved. Lets review the cast:
Jesse Eisenberg can be an acquired taste with his quick twitch physical acting and his quick pace talking. That said, here’s two in a row in the franchise where he changes his ways enough to pull out a different kind of performance.
Woody Harrelson is the ageless wonder. He’s looked like hell his entire career and he nearly looks no different from when he started. He’s got fantastic comedic timing. Not very impressive with his turn as his twin brother however. I found that character annoying, and not the kind that he’s supposed to be so we understand he’s the villain, just plain annoying.
Dave Franco as usual is pure background. Even though there is a small attempt to highlight him more, he fades to the back, serves his purpose as a role player and doesn’t detract from the movie the way he would if he were indeed placed front and center.
Mark Ruffalo is the emotional center of a film I would not have figured to have one. The original was smart and fun. This one is smart, fun, and a bit heart string tugging. We dive back into the past and really see how his character is motivated from a young age.
Lizzy Caplan replacing Isla Fischer was seamless. Honestly even as forgettable as Franco is, I found Fischer to be moreso…I actually forgot she was in the first one until a friend of mine asked me what I thought about the replacement. Its not a true replacement in terms of recasting, its a whole new character and she lends herself well to the group. Caplan has lots of wit and is that rare type of woman that can really pull off range from dweeb to seductress. Her introduction is a bit tossed in and then cast aside as we dive into the story pretty fast.
Morgan Freeman is Morgan Freeman. For the life of me I just don’t understand how he does that magical Morgan Freeman thing. He’s the same in virtually everything he’s ever done, and yet that gravitas lends a weight of truth in the roles he takes. Though its the same, its nuanced and different each time. He has a masterful twist in this movie that is fun to watch be unveiled.
Daniel Radcliffe is our main villain although there are plenty to choose from. Radcliffe does a fantastic job as an antogonist. I find him brilliant when playing opposite the hero. For a guy many thought would fall into the child star trap, he is really busting loose of the Harry Potter stigma lately.
Ed Solomon (writer) wrote both films and you can see he has a passion for the subject matter played out both above and below the surface. There’s a societal question tucked into the theme of these magic movies and he brings them to the screen with a great and unexpected flare.
Jon M. Chu (director) has a checkered past with regards to his directorial credits. He did a good job but you can see the difference on choices that Louis Leterrier would likely have done better. There’re some overly heavy handed moments that jarred me but nothing bad enough to really matter in the long run.
The best sequence was absolutely the comedy and slick action in the heist scene. Stealing a chip that could manipulate world markets and access all data for anyone online. This plot point is beat to death these days with cyber security shows and films, however they put a fun spin on it and the topic is very much still relevant so it works well to move the plot. The Finale trick was funny but you could pretty well see the setup from a random bump in with a pedestrian to our heroes being tossed out of a plane. It was meant to be seen through I believe so that we were all in on the script flip where captors became captives.
The Eye is an entity that is both protagonist and antagonist in this film. There is building doubt that the leadership actually has a plan. Little do the 4 horsemen know, they are 1000 moves ahead at all times. It can be accurately inferred that all the hardships the 4 horsemen have been through in both movies was all meticulously planned by the Eye.
Final thoughts: Too silly at times which is saying something since its a movie with magic tricks, but was never boring. Core cast and main support were in sync delivering a good performance amidst a deeply layered plot that was fun to watch being peeled back.
Original is better, but this one is by no means bad. I think the franchise is best served to leave it alone…but there is enough setup for there to be possibly as many as 4-6 movies. The hope is that they’ll leave it at the obvious trilogy and call it quits. If the magic tricks stay great and the story stays interesting, they could do some decent extra sequels. It almost feels like a weird tipping point towards The Fast and Furious road where people love this stuff regardless. Not quite there but its very unexpectedly popular so with the map laid out for future options, its a possibility.
Definitely watch this movie if you’re looking for a fun couple hours to kill.