This is another movie I wanted to see last summer, but life got in the way and I was trying not to overdo my theater-going. There is a point where it becomes madness, ya know? 😉 So I waited patiently for this sequel to come out for home purchase and tossed a rather strong suggestion in Santa Claus’ general direction. 😛 And voila! One copy, free for me to watch at my leisure! …which, of course, I did! 🙂
I found Now You See Me 2 to be not a carbon copy of the first film, but a worthy continuation of the story, as sequels should be. One can debate which of these two is the better movie, with arguments supporting both, but they really are two very different movies, so the comparison gets a bit tricky.
The first NYSM was mostly a mystery story, with a bit of action, following the FBI as they followed the Four Horsemen who were following an enigmatic figure in the shadows, who turned them into Robin Hood-like figures, and the whole thing turned out to be a revenge story in the end. The second is mostly a straight-up action movie, albeit an unusual one, which developed both the characters and some things which the first movie merely alluded to. In particular, the Eye.
The Eye was set up as this hidden power reaching every corner of the world, a secret order of magicians dedicated to bringing justice to the corrupt and powerful as well as the poor people they rob. Surely such an organization would lurk behind the scenes, around every corner, in the dark and secret catacombs, right? Well, not so much. Much like a magician’s slight of hand, the Eye does not live behind the scenes. It hides in plain sight.
As the most visible instrument of the Eye’s will and power, the Horsemen are making their return to the public eye, at the direction of their now-leader, Dylan. Unfortunately, it turns out to be a trap, and all Hell breaks loose. Dylan finds himself on the run, and the Horsemen find themselves on the receiving end of their own tricks, whisked away to the other side of the world, at the mercy of enemies which prove most menacing and dangerous indeed. No longer in control, as they were in the first movie, Dylan and the Horsemen have to us their wits and will, making questionable decisions and evern more questionable alliances in order to survive. Even more, however, they have to win this fight on behalf of the Eye itself, now under direct threat.
It impresses me how this movie develops the relationships among the Horsemen especially. Dylan Rhodes, aka Dylan Shrike, devoted his life to taking revenge for his father, but now, for his comrades, he has to let go of that, completely. Daniel Atlas, the self-appointed leader, is an alpha male who now has to take orders from someone else, and so he tries to be the leader again, to devastating results, which he owns and makes amends for. Merritt McKinney and Jack Wilder have apparently grown close, almost like brothers, which is a fitting contrast against Merritt’s biological brother, Chase, who gleefully counts himself among the Horsemen’s enemies. Finally, it was unfortunate that Isla Fisher did not reprise her role as Henley Reeves, but they explained that away as Henley having left the group, and they brought Lula May on instead. Eager to prove herself a worthy addition to the crew, bold and not afraid to go after what she wants, she complements the men better than I thought she would. She certainly doesn’t hesitate in making her interest in Jack abundantly clear. Heh. 🙂
So, yes, the Horsemen are in a crisis, but they come together under the pressure, like a family, becoming stronger for it. And all the actors do some pretty good justice to their characters. The addition of Daniel Radcliffe to the cast, as the primary antagonist for most of the movie, was fantastic. He did justice to his character’s mental instability as well as his feral cunning. Well done.
There is only one thing, really, which doesn’t quite make sense to me. In the first movie’s ending, Dylan welcomed the Horsemen to the Eye, which would strongly imply that he is part of the Eye. Yet, a final revelation tells us that Thaddeus Bradley, the man he set up and sent to prison – which, really, would not happen in real life – is also a member of the Eye. How did Dylan never know this, I wonder? For that matter, for having been part of the Eye before, Dylan seems to know precious few of the secrets revealed in this movie. Bit of a plot hole, that, I would say.
Also, one more point, towards the end of the movie, it was fairly easy for me to guess what was going on. It was clearly a set up, intended to not only reveal the villains to the world, but also their nefarious deeds and foul natures. It worked brilliantly, of course, but as the audience was able to guess what was happening, it kind of negated the climactic tension, just a bit. I was like, “Yes, we know, this is not what it seems to be, can we deliver the finishing blow now?” So, the film’s finale was not the most dazzling part of the show, which is a big misstep for a show featuring magicians, ya know?
That said, I still find myself hoping for a third chapter to the series. I think they tied everything up pretty well, so I’ve no idea what they could possibly do, now that they’ve put our heroes on top of the world. But… well, when the audience is left wanting more of what you’re selling, whatever the faults and flaws, that is no small thing! 🙂
Which one was better, the first or the second? Hmmm, I would say they’re roughly equals, with a slight advantage, perhaps, going to the first one.
Rating: I give Now You See Me 2 a good 8 stars out of 10. Not bad at all.
Grade: solid B.