Movie Review: Now You See Me 2 (2016)

“If you think you’ve seen it all take another look.”

0 Stars
Now you See Me 2 (2016)

Now You See Me 2 (2016)


Director: John M. Chu

Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson

Synopsis: The Four Horsemen return to steal a chip that can hack any computer system in the world.

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At one point in Now You See Me 2, the Horsemen, reunited once more after dispensing their own brand of People’s Justice on crooked insurance tycoon Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine – Interstellar, Kingsman: The Secret Service) in the first movie, are in a Fort Knox-like facility which is supposed to be high security, but is curiously lacking any surveillance cameras.   They’re posing as potential bidders for the purchase of a chip which contains a revolutionary program that can hack any computer system in the world, but, being the rogues that they are, our heroes aren’t there to view the chip, but to steal it.   Having obtained it through the use of the simplest of diversionary tactics they, stick the wafer-thin chip to the back of a playing card and proceed to flick the card back and forth to one another to avoid the hands of the suspicious security guards frisking them.   The scene goes on forever, losing lustre and potency with each passing second.   And, even worse, at the movie’s end, we find that the hapless guardian of the chip was in on the act anyway, rendering the whole sequence – like the film in which it appears – entirely empty and pointless.

Most sequels are pointless, but Now You See Me 2 must be one of the least necessary ever made.  Burdened by its need to outdo its unexpectedly successful predecessor, it dreams up a plot so convoluted and far-fetched that most viewers will soon abandon any effort to figure out what’s going on and simply allow the haphazard plot twists that tumble from the screen to wash over them.   It all revolves around the plot to nab the chip hatched by pint-sized megalomaniac tech guru Walter Abry (Daniel Radcliffe – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Imperium), and the inevitable double-crosses and treachery that follow.   Woody Harrelson (The Hunger Games – Catching Fire, The Duel), Jesse Eisenberg (Zombieland, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice) and Dave Franco (Warm Bodies, Nerve) reprise their roles from the first movie, but Isla Fisher is absent for this one, replaced, to dubious effect, by Lizzy Caplan (Cloverfield).   Mark Ruffalo (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) also returns as CIA agent Dylan Rhodes, who continues to bore us with his father issues and finds himself out of a job when his connection to the Horsemen is exposed by Abry.   Tressler also returns to contribute some choice skulduggery, as does the far more morally murky Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman – London Has Fallen, Ben-Hur), and it has to be said that these two old boys are a lot more fun than the Horsemen, whose perpetual smirks puts one in mind of a bunch of fatuous geeks who think they know something we don’t.

There aren’t enough words to describe the glossy emptiness of Now You See Me 2, but here’s a few to be going on with: gaudy, flashy, brazen, tawdry – they all apply, and yet, somehow, don’t do justice to a film so smugly self-satisfied it makes you wish it had a face so you could punch it.   A dazzling, lightning-paced collection of twists piled untidily atop one another, and crowned by a stupendously bad finale which only a complete moron could fall for, Now You See Me 2 makes for crass and superficial entertainment that typifies the ‘money at all costs’ attitude of today’s Hollywood.

(Reviewed 5th September 2016)

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