By Jack Dignan
The first Now You See Me was a forgettable, although not completely terrible film. I watched it, I didn't hate it and I moved on. Now, three years later, the film's follow up has been released, Now You See Me 2, and it's got me questioning whether or not the first film was as bearable as I remember it being. Why? Well, because this is one of the worst movies I have seen all year. Few films make me legitimately angry at just how bad they are, but this is the second time this year I've been angry at a movie, and if you're ever forced to sit through this atrocity, you'll understand why.
From director Jon M. Chu, the man behind Jem and the Holograms and Justin Bieber: Never Say Never (why?!?), Now You See Me 2 continues the story of J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson), Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) and undercover cop, Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo). They're on the run, still working for an agency known as 'the eye,' which they know very little about. After recruiting a new horseman, Lula (Lizzy Caplan), they're threatened by a very wealthy man named Walter (Daniel Radcliffe) into stealing a device that can hack into any computer in the world.
Now You See Me 2 is a film that tries oh-so-desperately to appear extremely smart and clever, constantly attempting to pull the rug out from underneath you. It acts smart, is full of class and has the characters pretending to understand the events happening on screen. The thing is, pretending to be smart and actually being smart are two extremely different things, especially since this has to be the single stupidest movie of 2016. It's plot hole after plot hole after plot hole, each twist completely contradicting the last and making even less sense than what came before it.
Without giving away any plot spoilers, there are some events that happen that prove to be rather difficult to the Horsemen, and each and every one of their escapes or ways out are all either painfully idiotic, nonsensical or convenient, and none are given a reasonable explanation. We're just told to accept the facts for what they are, despite the facts making zero sense whatsoever. I felt insulted by this movie on a personal level, and no, that's not because it's an offensive film, but is instead because of how ridiculously dumb it is.
It's a tonally jumbled film too, the writers never sure what direction they want to go in or what genre they're trying to fall under. Is it a heist movie? A crime movie? An action movie? A comedy? I have no idea. Is it all of the above? Sort of, but then again, it's not really any of them, either. Every scene fails to correlate to the last, making the plot impossible to follow, especially when they insist on putting in a new twist every ten minutes or so.
Not only that, but the writing in general is just extremely poor. Corny dialogue, I will admit, can work from time to time. If it suits the style of the movie and works with what they're going for, I love it. I have nothing against a cheesy movie if the cheesiness works in its advantage. The writing in Now You See Me 2 isn't necessarily cheesy, it's just straight up bad. The dialogue is horrendous, the character development non-existent and if you were looking for any sort of originality... well, I honestly can't tell if this film had any. It may have, but if it did, I sure as hell didn't notice it.
This is, after all, a movie about magic, but it always tries to insist to the audience that the magic we're seeing is real. This is, so they say, authentic magic. Obviously, when making the film it's set up and given the cinematic treatment, but what this film does do is give an explanation for the craziest of tricks, and while most of them are predictable, there are a few that are never explained. I don't need everything to be spelt out for me, but when your film is trying to convince me that all of these tricks are achievable in real life, but you show me Jesse Eisenberg literally falling onto his back and disappearing into a puddle, leaving behind his clothes, then I find it extremely difficult to trust your movie.
Another great example of how illogical the tricks are in this movie, and I will warn you that this is a minor-spoiler so just skip this paragraph if you'd rather not know, is a scene about halfway through. To be honest, it felt like it was nearing the finale, but I checked my watch and there was still over an hour left. But anyways, the scene shows the horsemen attempting to throw a card around between the four of them so that none of the security members see the card while they're being patted down. It's a physics defying and mind bogglingly stupid scene that features the card moving in a, quite literally, magical way, flying from body to body and rolling around under their clothes with no apparent source of movement.
The returning cast all do a sufficient enough job at acting, but it's just never interesting when all of their characters are extremely annoying and their motives make no sense. Isla Fisher has been replaced by Lizzy Caplan, and while her character started out rather well, she soon got tiresome and irritable, and when it came to the finale, I was dreading watching her character on screen. Daniel Radcliffe is as charismatic and likeable as ever, but alas, his character's motive was altered about fifty times throughout.
To sum up, Now You See Me 2 is one of the most idiotic and lifeless messes of a movie that you will see in 2016. The plot is nonsensical, the characters undeveloped and the writing unforgivably bad. Is it acceptable to call out the advertising team for false advertising since they advertised this as what seemed to be a clever movie?