I really enjoyed watching Now You See Me. It was fresh take on the heist movie. The cons were entertaining, the reveals fun to explore, and the twist at the end wasn’t something I was expecting. The cast worked well together, and all-in-all, it was just something I had fun watching. With all of that, I watched Now You See Me 2 hoping to see more of the same. And I do want to point out that overall, I did enjoy Now You See Me 2, but there was one nagging thought that I couldn’t shake the entire time. That thought was, “this really feels like Ocean’s 12.”
Now, I do think Ocean’s 12 is okay, but for me, it’s not nearly as enjoyable to watch as Ocean’s 11 or Ocean’s 13. What I enjoyed about 11 and 13 is that the group is pulling off these elaborate heists because they are trying to punish their targets. With 12, the job is about saving their own skin because the guy in the previous movie is angry and wants to get revenge. If you enjoy that dynamic, that’s fine. But to me, it just changes the dynamic of the group.
So, it’s been a year since the Horsemen’s last exploits, and they’ve been sitting around, doing nothing, waiting for further instructions from The Eye in the span of that year. Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) is still in the FBI, leading (or misleading) the investigation into the Horsemen. Danny Atlus (Jesse Eisenberg) is getting impatient and contacts The Eye himself. They tell him to be patient and he will be leader some day. Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher) had just decided to leave the group, and is replaced by Lula (Lizzy Caplan), because of course you have to have a female in the group. How else are you supposed to have a love interest for someone? Actually, that’s a bit cynical of me, but they really did just force a romantic angle into the movie without a whole lot of setup. Lula would have been an interesting character on her own, even though we really don’t know a lot about her.
For me, the brightest spot in this movie is Daniel Radcliffe as Walter Mabry. He’s the villain of the movie, and he does a pretty good job at being the antagonist. Radcliffe isn’t physically imposing. Doesn’t have a voice that easily sounds menacing. So, it’s all in the delivery. At no point did I think that the Mabry character wasn’t a threat. Well, that is after the initial thought of, “hey look, it’s Harry Potter.” Radcliffe successfully pulls off a character that’s trying to be cool, but is incredibly awkward in the process. Is also a bit of a smart ass, while still making you not want to cross him because you are certain his threats are serious. It’s a villain type that doesn’t always work in live action movie, but I feel it fits in perfectly with this movie.
While talking about villains, I also want to mention Woody Harrelson. No, his character, Merritt McKinney does not turn on the group. What happens is far more jarring and really just silly. I hated anytime he was on this screen as this other character. (It’s probably not difficult to figure out what they did, but I’m still not going to flat out spoil it.) I just don’t really see the point. They could have introduced someone else with the same abilities. Hell, just have a different actor without such a goofy approach to the character. And really, it was a waste of the character, because they don’t really develop the story any with him.
The returning characters are pretty much the same as they were in the last movie. The don’t really change. Still have some issues working as a team, having just successfully worked together really well previously. It’s something I really dislike in sequels. I feel like having the team conflict dynamic in a sequel after showing the team coming together is lazy writing. You have already done the coming together story. Tell a different story. Don’t mine that story again because it’s an easy way to create conflict.
And of course there are a couple twists in the movie. I feel one makes logical sense, but the second doesn’t really make any sense to me at all. It just feels like the story doesn’t logically lead to this twist. And I know that the point of a twist is to provide an unexpected shock, but once you know the twist, you should be able to go back through the movie, and have the twist make logical sense. In the first movie, it makes sense that Dylan is with The Eye, and he’s using a position in the FBI to follow and test the Horsemen. With this movie, I can’t go back through the story and logically apply the twist. It just seems like the information provided by the twist is just being withheld for no good reason.
In the end, if you enjoyed the first movie, odds are good that you’ll at least somewhat enjoy this movie. Just don’t go in with too high of expectations. If you really like seeing Daniel Radcliffe, then I think you may enjoy this movie.