Direction: Jon M Chu
Now You See Me 2 sees the three horsemen (Eisenberg, Franco and Harrelson) with a lady debutante (Lizzy Kaplan) as they come out after a year of hiding to expose a tech mogul. Only during their act, they get kidnapped by an eccentric billionaire (Radcliffe) who has plans of using their expertise to get hold of some things of his own.
Talks of Daniel Radcliffe joining the project gave it a massive push. People were excited to see whether the actor who had shot to worldwide fame playing a boy wizard would fit in seamlessly into the world of illusionists and magic tricks. And yet, when you leave the theatre, you can’t help but feel sad about wasting a talent like Radcliffe in the role of a half-wit, unconvincing antagonist.
The film is directed by Jon M Chu, the man behind films like Justin Bieber’s vanity project Never Say Never and a couple of Step Up films. He is, in short, a compact description of a ‘studio director’. The director uses a lot of swift cuts, edgy editing, glitzy camerawork to distract us from the lack of direction of the story. The unwritten rule of filmmaking is that the worst films are the ones that fail to interest the audience. Unfortunately with this sequel, the director bores us with lengthy explanations to the plot’s twist and turns which turn bizarre after a point.
The entire atmosphere of the film feels fake. In the opening flashback, a father high-fives his son promising to come back after a dangerous magic trick. The son then bawls as his father is nowhere to be found, the melodrama feels manufactured. In the scene preceding the third act, all the characters come together and clink their cups, talking about their gobsmacking plan while upbeat music plays in the background. As the director hammers these cliches into the film, the audience can’t help but laugh in amusement. There is but one genuine moment in the film as the father-son duo of Michael Caine and Daniel Radcliffe share a ‘cuppa tea’ while they drown one of their sworn enemies. Propah British, innit?
Now You See Me 2, on a whole doesn’t work as a film, let alone a sequel. It uses lots of special effects, blinding visuals, blaring background score and one-liners to steer the audience away from its ridiculous, convoluted plot twists. What the makers forget is that the movie is ABOUT deception and not deceiving the audience. It doesn’t even have the surprise element the first film had. The sequel is a Chinese box with a box inside it, with another box inside it and so on…until the final one is empty. All style and glamour, no substance.