Not every movie warrants a sequel just because the first one was a hit. This can be seen in Neighbors 2, and in many ways, in Now You See Me 2. For while it does dive a bit further into the vendetta Dylan Rhodes had against Thaddeus Bradley, sometimes the film doesn’t feel worth losing 2 hours of your life.
Characters Worth Noting
Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg) | Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) | Merritt (Woody Harrelson) | Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) | Walter (Daniel Radcliffe) | Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman) | Lula (Lizzy Caplan)
Main Storyline (with Commentary)
It is all been about revenge. Revenge, as well as ego, it what drives nearly everyone in this movie. It is what drove Dylan to hunting down the men who took part in not only his father’s death but his mother’s suffering. It is what drives Atlas into trying to bypass Dylan to talk to the eye, since he wants a direct connection and not a middleman. It is what drives Walter to make it seem helping him in his pursuit of anonymity means life or death for the horseman. It is what drives Lula to want to be a horseman, gain their respect, and maybe even get a piece of Jack who is tired of being in the background.
All in all, the plot of the first film gets squeezed for its remaining juices to finish fleshing out Dylan’s backstory while Atlas, in general Eisenberg fashion, becomes a pompous loathe-able ass you honestly hope dies. All the while Lula and Merritt act as comic reliefs and Jack sometimes just gets lost trying to figure out if his role is to be one of the funny ones or one of the magicians you should take a little bit more seriously. Leaving Walter as some sort of villain, but even with his minions and desire for murder, there is just something about Walter, if not Radcliffe, which makes taking Walter seriously as a villain like taking Scott Evil, from Austin Powers, seriously.
Things To Note
Isla Fisher’s character is written off as simply giving up after 18 months waiting for the eye to say they can once more perform. Leaving the possibility of her returning for the third film, already greenlighted, as a possibility. It doesn’t make you wonder, though, how will they write her and Lula getting along? Will it be a case of women power or a fight to be the 4th horseman? Especially considering that the 3rd one, more than likely, will have to do with a threat to the organization known as “The Eye.”
While there are many times where Lula feels out of place, especially in the beginning, once Caplan gets cozy in the character you do forget she wasn’t in the original film. In fact, it can be argued she outdoes Harrelson in getting you to laugh and chuckle.
The ante is upped when it comes to the action. Which now includes fights using tricks, mostly for Ruffalo, and one scene which is quite memorable. Said scene is when the horseman are trying to escape with this electronic chip, no bigger than a playing card, and are throwing it across the room, hiding it as they are searched, and between the comedic moments Caplan has, to the sleight of hand the men exhibit, it truly is one of the highlights of the film.
I don’t even think I can blame whatever residual memory I have of Radcliffe playing Harry Potter – to me the man just doesn’t make a credible villain. At least, he doesn’t make a credible villain for a film like this in which the heroes are anti-heroes with distinct personalities. All of which are eccentric so mashing eccentric heroes with an eccentric villain just cancels things out.
To put it a different way, in the trailer, it almost seems like Radcliffe was going to pursue becoming a horseman and was not talented enough for it, and in many ways that would have been better. For there is no oomph in Radcliffe’s performance which makes you fear neither him or his assumed power. Even with his father’s appearance, and all the might he brings, sadly he taints said character and turns him from a menacing figure into a slightly less comical figure. One which takes pleasure in watching men die while sipping tea, but nonetheless seems like a Scooby-Doo villain in the process.
On The Fence
While there were unresolved issues when it comes to Dylan’s past, at the same time I feel that plot being in competition with Walter’s made neither one strong enough to care about. Walter’s battle dealt with revenge for being kicked out of a company using a product she built and getting revenge for their father. For Dylan, it was getting revenge for his father against all those who contributed to his death and those who didn’t make things better after.
To me, while the parallels may have seemed good to somebody, I think only one of those stories should have survived the draft process. Thaddeus to me, him challenging Dylan to be better than his father, if not surpass him, using whatever means necessary, would have been better than Walter kidnapping the horseman and getting them to do his bidding. Yet, switching things around, dragging out Dylan’s vendetta wasn’t the best idea when there was this chip out there which could destroy people’s privacy. A topic which could have been explored for the Horsemen went into hiding for 18 months, seemed done, yet then Jack gets exposed as alive, and each one could have been dragged into the spotlight. Thus forcing them back onto the stage and really taking advantage of the theme Walter tried to present which was Science vs. Magic.