Now You See Me (II) Again

It is complex. It is deceiving. It is a game. Yes, that is right. Today we are talking about the much-anticipated Now You See Me II. As any fan of an intricate scheme designed to bring down hustlers by hustlers themself, I was so ready to watch this movie. I was absolutely intrigued by the first film, but that will not stop me from coming down on this one.

The second film of Now You See Me starts where the last film left of – or rather a year down the line. The Four Horsemen have gone into hiding after pulling of the scheme of a lifetime: robing a bank in Paris, bankrupting the team’s endorser, faking deaths, running and outsmarting FBI agents, and ultimately performing the most astonishing magic tricks. Now the team is ready for their second act, but the FBI is still on their trail and new revengeful, and somewhat twisted, individuals are ready to join the game for fame and power. Will the team pull through or will the plot be too thick to follow for you and me? Let’s talk about it.

Ultimately, I have three major complaints about this movie. First, it’s too damn complex. Second, why add an unstable individual to a film that makes magic tangible? And third, why untangle the gripping interrelation the first movie managed to build so well? To me, this movie did not do the first movie any favors. Not one what so ever, but let’s talk about it more rationally, shall we…

I believe the movie initially intended to outsmart its predecessor on every single level – the tricks, the plots, the twists, the everything. I believe it tried to do this, as to add complexity and layers to the storyline, while adding an element of surprise for the audience, as the poor writers knew audiences expected something spectacular. However, by adding not one, not two, not three, and definitely not four plot twists, but too many to bloody count (that’s right, I have no idea how many there actually were) it made the film appear ridiculously complex. Not because it was hard to follow the storyline, but rather because the film seamed to be trying too hard.

As with most second films, new members join the cast and change our perception of the existing one. This was the case with this movie’s villain. The original film had casted Morgan Freeman as the big bad wolf, alongside Michael Caine – both the ultimate good guy in every other movie they have been in. However, this time around, the film took a twist. It decided to swift out the self-serving Freeman with the unstable Daniel Radcliffe. What exactly was that about? What I liked about the first film was that everyone – and I literally mean everyone – was self-serving. It only made the logic behind Freeman being casted as evil reasonable. But now, the villain aka Radcliffe had to be unstably weird. Why? Why possibly lower the storyline for something that inconsequential? And I must say as a fan of the ultimate magic franchise – Harry Potter – I did not really buy into Radcliffe’s part. He will always be Potter to me.

But with all these hiccups in the film, I still like it. I actually enjoyed it. I love each of the Four Horsemen – Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harelson, Dave Franco, Mark Ruffalo and  even newcomer Lizzy Caplan – how they work together, the humor between them. I could even get over the fact that the original female Horsemen was absent, because the tight line between good and bad walked by the tricksters themselves and their magic tricks held me captivated. Somehow the film made it possible to overlook the storyline itself. All in all, it did that right.

This time around, the movie is only able to pull home a mere four stars. Fun game, fun tricks, fun movie, but ultimately too deceivingly complicated with a stolen storyline from its predecessor. Though that is ultimately the essence of the characters in the movie, it should not be the essence of the writers of the film.

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