"Now You See Me 2" is a perfect example of a cast of accomplished actors given an unworthy script creating
disappointing --- and literally dismal --- results. One has to marvel that assembling such stalwarts as Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg and the rest can culminate in such a low energy dud.
Full disclosure --- I did not see "Now You See Me" from 2013, but at the behest of a fellow critic I decided to attend the screening. (At the conclusion, said critic apologized for suggesting I be there, so that should be another clue as to how bad "Now You See Me 2" really is --- but I digress.) I was hoping to be wowed by spectacular illusions, but, alas, it was not to be.
Set three years after the last outing of the Four Horsemen, Danny Atlas (Eisenberg), Merritt McKinney (Harrelson), Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) and Lula (Lizzy Caplan), who replaces Isla Fisher as the fourth Horsemen, come together again to foil Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe), a nasty tech nerd who wants control of the entire planet's privacy. Mabry happens to be the son of insurance magnate Arthur Tressler (Caine), who was relieved of all of his money by the Four Horsemen in the first installment. Now he is back to finish them off and exact his revenge.
Thaddeus Bradley (Freeman) remains jailed, but not for long since Dylan Rhodes (Ruffalo), the fifth Horsemen, needs help finding his compatriots in Macau, China where Mabry has taken them. All of the action culminates at a huge New Year's Eve celebration in London, England.
Directed by Jon M. Chu, with a lifeless screenplay by Ed Solomon, who is also responsible for the dreadful story idea along with Peter Chiarelli, "Now You See Me 2" is first and foremost way too long at two hours and nine minutes. There is simply not enough substance in this sequel to justify the length. Secondly, there is very little magic that is actually new or entertaining.
At one point Dylan is forced into the same safe in which his illusionist father perished when Dylan was a child. His father did not get out in time, but there is never any doubt that Dylan will suffer the same outcome. "Now You See Me 2" offers no suspense or angst, and the friendly banter amongst the Horsemen also falls flat. What limited amusement there is comes at a lagging rate.
The most egregious fault with "Now You See Me 2" lies in the complete waste of talent. Caine and Freeman are totally underutilized, though Morgan does his utmost with his limited role. Despite his advancing years, he has not lost that charming twinkle in his eye. It's an abomination that he and Caine are made to utter nonsensical lines of dialogue.
Ruffalo, Harrelson, who also portrays Merritt's goofy evil brother Chase, Eisenberg, Franco and Caplan are passable considering what they're given. But Radcliffe really must learn to stop overacting. He's not Harry Potter any more, so the over-the-top character should become a thing of the past. It's fine when playing J. Pierrepont Finch in "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" on Broadway, in which he was marvelous, but in film he has to begin to tone it down a bit.
I'm certain moviegoers will flock to see "Now You See Me 2", but be warned --- it is not the lavishly entertaining spectacle I was anticipating. It's rather dull and essentially a waste of time.
Opinion: Don't Bother!