Now You See Me 2 is the sequel to…. now, let me think… oh yes, Now You See Me.
I had read online a suggestion that this second entry should’ve been titled “Now You Don’t”, but then Hollywood has to ensure that its target audience doesn’t start to engage in any cognitive process, because they might’ve thought to turn this nonsense off.
The first film wasn’t great, as while I love magic tricks, it didn’t really have any – it just replaced them with flashy CGI. Still, I wanted to give the team a chance to redeem themselves.
After a flashback to 30 years earlier with a magic trick featuring a man called Lionel Shrike (Richard Laing), which will eventually come into play during the main film, we move forward to the present day where we’re 18 months on from the first film. The Horsemen are coming back and it’s in relation to a software company called Octa, which leads them to super-rich hideaway Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe) who wants them to steal a technically-amazing (and, understandably, very expensive) computer chip.
Whereas the first film pretend to teleport them into a bank vault, this time, the Four Horsemen end up being physically taken from the top of a roof in America to a Chinese restaurant in Macau, China, where Merritt (Woody Harrelson) observes that, there, they don’t refer to Chinese food as Chinese food but just…. “food”.
Lizzy Caplan replaces Isla Fisher as the female Horseman, not as the same person, since Lizzy is Lula, as opposed to Isla’s Henley. They come up with a reason to change the character, but in reality, Isla was pregnant with her third child at the time of filming, so while I won’t give the reason here, it’s not going to require an Einstein to get to grips with the reasoning.
Again, for me, the CGI killed the magic sequences – especially for one involving the playing card and computer chip. Was that storyboarded, or did they just make it up as they went along?
Michael Caine‘s Arthur Tressler character is crowbarred into the script for no particular reason, while Woody doubles up as his own twin brother, Chase, which caused my expectations of this movie to sink even further. Obviously, Morgan Freeman also returns, as does a ton of double-crossing which leaves me bewildered at times, wondering where we’re meant to be up to.
The entire 129 minutes weren’t completely objectionable, but were completely forgettable. This sequel had a budget of $90m and has so far taken $334m in cinemas worldwide, so the maths means that Now You See Me 3 has been announced. Fans of Isla Fisher will be pleased to know that she is due to return as Henley. All that said, NYSM2 did try to cheat to get a No.1 UK movie chart position, since you know how most films are released in cinemas on a Friday? That means it has a 3-day ‘weekend’ for box-office receipts. The earlier you release it in the week, the longer its ‘weekend’. Now You See Me 2 was brought out on a Monday, aiming for a 7-day ‘weekend’, and it still fell behind The Secret Life Of Pets and The Legend of Tarzan.
For the record, the longest ‘weekend’ you can get is 9 days, by releasing a film on a Saturday, which is what Transformers: Age of Extinction did, back in 2014.
The film is presented in the original 2.35:1 widescreen ratio and in 1080p high definition and the visuals are stunning as you’d expect for a modern movie, so if you did enjoy the special effects on the big screen, you’ll be pleased to see them replicated perfectly here.
The audio is presented here in Dolby Atmos, and I still liked the score in this movie, even if it didn’t really differ from the first one. The flashy visuals are complemented by a lot going on, with occasional split-surround effects, such as when Woody and Dave Franco are flicking cards through a car.
The extras are mainly one big near-hour-long ‘making of’ split into three sections, each mixing clips with soundbites from key cast and crew, starting with The Art of the Ensemble (21:10) where they… talk about working with an ensemble cast and how it’s important they get on, etc.
You Can’t Look Away (17:13) takes a look at the visuals, CGI, set design plus the locations, while Bringing Magic To Life (16:07) delves onto the reason for this film’s existence, even though I’ve already explained how there’s precious little actual magic in there. That still doesn’t stop those involved claiming that plenty of the tricks in the film can be done in real life. Hmmm… itchy chins!
Finally, there’s a feature-length audio commentary from director Jon M Chu.
Thankfully, this disc doesn’t have the problem that affected E.One’s Midnight Special (and many other releases from other studios) which disables the D-pad and joystick controls on a PS4. However, we do get the same problem that takes us back to the beginning of the menu with the bane of the old days of video – sitting through trailers (and an advert?!) BEFORE THE FILM!! PUT THEM IN THE MAIN MENU!!
The main menu features clips from the film set against the theme (which sounds oddly muffled). There are subtitles in English and chapters amount to 16, which is better than most releases out there, but I never say no to more. I personally prefer one approximately every five minutes.
Running time: 129 minutes
Released: November 7th 2016
Studio: Entertainment One
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: Dolby Atmos, 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio, DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (ARRIRAW (3.4K), Redcode RAW (6K))
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Jon M Chu
Producers: Bobby Cohen, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci
Screenplay: Ed Solomon (based on the story by Ed Solomon and Pete Chiarelli, and characters by Boaz Yakin and Edward Ricourt)
Music: Brian Tyler
J. Daniel Atlas: Jesse Eisenberg
Dylan Rhodes: Mark Ruffalo
Merritt McKinney: Woody Harrelson
Jack Wilder: Dave Franco
Walter Mabry: Daniel Radcliffe
Lula: Lizzy Caplan
Li: Jay Chou
Deputy Director Natalie Austin: Sanaa Lathan
Arthur Tressler: Michael Caine
Thaddeus Bradley: Morgan Freeman
Agent Cowan: David Warshofsky
Bu Bu: Tsai Chin
Young Dylan: William Henderson
Lionel Shrike: Richard Laing
Allen Scott-Frank: Henry Lloyd-Hughes
Chase McKinney: Brick Patrick
Hannes Pike: Zach Gregory
Owen Case: Ben Lamb
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.