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  • All surface, no magic


All surface, no magic

OUT NOW! NOW YOU SEE ME 2 thinks its cleverer than it actually is and comfortably fits in among the pantheon of other mediocre 2016 sequels.

And for their next trick, the studio behind 2013’s Now You See Me will attempt to convince you to shell out for a bigger, longer and starrier sequel.

It’s been 18 months since magic super-team The Four Horsemen went into hiding. Their previous antics have landed them on the FBI’s wallboards and before they can say ‘comeback’, the modern-day Robin Hoods are promptly kidnapped and shipped to Macau by Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe). There, he proceeds to blackmail them into stealing a computer chip-shaped MacGuffin for his nefarious purposes…

Brass tacks: Now You See Me 2 is, to co-opt the words of one character, “a sackful of nada”. There’s no skill, no logic and certainly no need for any of it. Director Jon M. Chu, the ‘talent’ behind GI Joe: Retaliation and two Justin Bieber documentaries, takes the reins from Louis Leterrier. His glossy direction boils down to throwing as many set pieces, CGI and A-listers at the screen as possible, while hoping that no one sees beyond the blatant attempts to woo the Asian market, or attempts to chip away at the surface in search of coherence.

Worst of all (and much like its predecessor, also scripted by Ed Solomon), it smugly thinks it’s cleverer than it actually is. Solomon, who has a tin-ear for wisecracks, mistakes convoluted retcons for subtle twists. The writer also seems to be harbouring the impression that if you over-zealously quote The Wizard of Oz, the audience will start to believe in magic.

Ultimately, despite one entertaining Mission Impossible-esque sequence and a lively turn from Lizzy Caplan, this second instalment confidently joins the ranks of Alice Through The Looking Glass, Independence Day: Resurgence and The Conjuring 2 in 2016’s pantheon of dispensable sequels.

One final gripe: why on earth didn’t they call it Now You Don’t? Talk about missing a trick…

Now You See Me 2 (Die Unfassbaren 2) / Directed by Jon M. Chu (USA, 2016) with Mark Ruffalo, Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Lizzy Caplan, Daniel Radcliffe. Starts August 25.