HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Now You See Me 2
HTS Overall Score:85
I have to say that both “Now You See Me” films are just pieces in a larger puzzle. Different acts of the same story with both films tying directly into the last and each reveal that happens unlocks something that from earlier in the movie, or earlier in the franchise. Thus there are going to be a few spoilers for those of you who haven’t seen the original “Now You See Me”.
“Now You See Me” was an interesting take on the world of magic back in 2013. A little fluffy film that really wasn’t meant to be taken too seriously. It was a fun and flashy take on stage magic, trying to blend a little mysterious misdirection and deflection to make you ask the question “were they actually doing magic or were they illusionists”? I enjoyed the film for what it was as I have a love affair with illusion and the art of the modern magician. In fact my best friend is a world class illusionist who travels all over the globe entertaining people the world over, so I have a slightly vested interest in the series. “Now You See Me 2” starts back up a little over a year after the first film ended. Last time we met the 4 Horsemen, they had dazzled the world over with their Robin Hood type antics that have endeared them the fanatic loyalty of the crowd. After it was revealed that their mysterious guide from “the eye” (a mysterious and elite group of magicians who seem to be controlling the horsemen) turns out to be none other than the FBI agent who was tailing them, Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo).
A year later the group has been in hiding as Rhodes covers their tracks in the FBI. That is until they come out to expose one more corrupt businessman. At the great spectacle where they perform some stage magic in an effort to expose said businessman they are suddenly left with nothing under their feet. A mysterious force steps in and orchestrates a massive attack on their position and leaves them holding the bag, sans rabbit. It seems this mysterious force comes from a rogue business Tycoon named Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe), who wants to use the Horseman’s special gift to help him steal a computer chip from his competitor (who happens to be the same businessman who they were in the middle of eviscerating on stage before they were so rudely interrupted), which will allow unfettered access into any computer system on earth (something that is actually more ridiculous than real magic if you know anything about computer systems and their differences).
At the same time Dylan is outed at the FBI and is forced to go on the run as well, meeting up with his protégé’s and also unraveling a thread that will help him find out what happened to his father some 30 years ago. A thought that has driven his entire need for revenge on Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman, who ended up in jail at the end of the first movie and vows vengeance as the narrator for this sequel as well).
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=79002[/img]What made “Now You See Me” interesting and unique was the tightrope walk that it with the audience. Making us wonder just how much of their “magic” was illusion, and if there was any REAL magic involved in the tricks that the 4 Horsemen were able to pull off. It was the pull, the hook, and the bait. You watched that film wondering if there was going to be a logical reveal, or if they were going with the mystical side. However, that secret was kept close to the vest, so much so that even the ending had you gleefully able to choose your own conclusion as it there really was nothing that pointed to either answer 100% truthfully. Well, this time it’s a little difference. They make no bones about the fact that the magic is not REAL magic, but illusion (sad, I know, but necessary for the direction the film takes us). “Now You See Me 2” takes a decidedly “heist film” turn to the plot as it has the 4 Horsemen use all of their illusionary skills (which borders on the mystical at first glance) to steal a computer chip from a lab, and then use all of their powers to misdirect and turn their heist into another giant humiliation for the crooks who got them to do this crime in the first place.
This is both a blessing and a curse, as it would be pretty hard to stretch the question of “is this real magic or just illusion” that the first film so carefully danced around. A second film means more screen time, and like real magic, the more time you have to look at a trick, the more obvious it is to the audience how he DID that trick. Same thing here. Shifting to a definite take on illusion and using their skills to rob a place allows for more avenues and more tricks to take place, but at the same time it takes some of the awe and wonder away from it, as you get to SEE the tricks this time (the card juggling act between the 4 of them when they actually steal it from a lab is the most obvious in this regards). Also it allows Dylan and a few other characters to create a full circle arc with their pasts, including finding out a lot more about some characters from the first movie who make a reappearance.
If I’m being a bit vague how things turn out it’s because I AM being vague on purpose. The fun and mystery of “Now You See Me 2” comes from constant misdirection and double backs that keep the viewer from finding everything out even though the answer is right in front of their face. If I say any more than it becomes an issue of spoiling what needs to be experienced rather than told. However, I can comment on the characters as they are the mainstay of the film. All of the characters we knew from the first film are back except for one. Isla Fischer was pregnant at the time of filming so it was written in that she left the 4 Horsemen while they were in hiding. However, to keep the rule of 4 alive, Dylan brings in Lula (played by the adorkable Lizzy Caplan) as the new member of the crew. She is met with mixed results, but the really quirky addition is Woody Harrelson playing not only Merritt McKinney, but his twin brother as well, who happens to be working for the criminal who’s making them steal the chip in the first place. This adds a little bit of rivalry, but also allows for Woody to go a bit crazy with the character to differentiate himself from Merritt. He was amusing, but sadly one of the weaker characters in the film and really could have bene left out.
Rated PG-13 for violence and some language
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=79010[/img]Using Arri Alex and RED cameras to shoot the digital production, Lionsgate’s “Now You See Me 2” is a flashy and pretty spectacle, much like the actual content of the film itself. Stylish and modern the movie keeps to brightly colored interiors and sharp contrasts between blacks, whites and reds throughout. Color saturation is immaculate with the red card vest as well as the deep and inky blacks that permeate the entire film from beginning to end. There are a few moments of banding and some black crush, but otherwise the film is mainly artifact free. Facial detail is solid, but not always exemplary as some mild softness creeps in, but the rest of the film is razor sharp, whether that be on Tessler’s private jet or in the streets of Macau. Long shots of the London exterior are absolutely magnificent just before their big reveal, as is the stage where the horsemen pop out of at the beginning of the movie. There is a distinctive teal filter to the shooting lenses, something that seems to be all the rage right now.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=79018[/img]The biggest and baddest member of this technical cast list is the Dolby Atmos track that Lionsgate has generously included on the Blu-ray as well as the 4K UltraHD release. Pure and simple fact. This is an AMAZING Atmos tracks (which makes two perfect 5/5 Atmos tracks I’ve reviewed in the last week. The other one being “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows”) that sparkles at every turn. The film starts out with an incredible use of the track’s capabilities with a flashback sequence that is just awash with all sorts of surround activity from the crowd, as well as making a TON of use out of the heights and backs throughout the film with all sorts of crowd noises, shifting directional cues from cards flying across the room as well as the roar of jet engines. Vocals are crisp and clear as always, and the LFE channel makes for a fantastic accompaniment with all of the orchestral musical bits that accompany the magic acts. Not to mention deep throbbing waves of bass that accentuate fistic hit flesh, a safe crashing into the ocean and the afore mentioned jet engine. Simply marvelous.
• Audio Commentary with Director Jon M. Chu
• The Art of the Ensemble
• You Can't Look Away
• Bringing Magic to Life
“Now You See Me 2” remains much of the same fluffy fun that the first movie was, but also deviates enough to make it decidedly different (yet still quite engaging). Both films are what I would consider throwaway entertainment. They aren’t meant to be analyzed and torn apart, but rather sit back in your chair and just enjoy the mental spectacle of the stage show they are producing. Much like a real magic act, enjoying the escape from reality and watching the misdirections are where all the fun is at. Neither worse nor better, than its predecessor, “Now You See Me 2” is an entertaining bit of empty filmic calories is just like candy. Sweet to the taste, worthless for your mental digestion system, but more than fun to swallow. The audio and video are spectacular for the release, and there are some pretty interesting special features that line the disc’s pocket, so to speak. Solid Watch.
Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Lizzy Caplan,
Directed by: Jon M. Chu
Written by: Ed Solomon
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English: Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Core), Spanish DD 5.1, English DD 2.0
Runtime: 129 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: September 6th, 2016
Buy Now You See Me 2 On Blu-ray at Amazon
Buy Now You See Me 2 On 4K UltraHD Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Good Watch
More about Mike