How “Now You See Me 2” Shits All Over the Original

When “Now you see me” came out, I was really impressed. It had everything you’d want in a crime drama, but with a unique flavor that the whole magician setting provided. It was also the movie that got me to stop hating Jesse Eisenberg, (Don’t worry, Batman V Superman & America Ultra rekindled my passionate hatred). So when a sequel was announced, I was excited, but also cautious. Sequels are notorious for letting down fans of the original. That being said, I thought Daniel Radcliffe and Lizzy Caplan would be able to make the movie different enough while still keeping what worked in the original. Anyway, several months after the film’s release, I finally got a chance to see the movie, and was utterly disappointed by what I saw. While not unwatchable, the movie is really hard to align with the first one, and if you’re a fan of continuity, this is sure to piss you right off. Although this is nothing new for a sequel, I literally had nothing better to do with my time than to write about all the reasons the two movies should not be watched together.

Oh, in case it wasn’t clear….SPOILERS FOR BOTH MOVIES TO FOLLOW.

 

Missing characters and their subsequent replacements

One of the biggest issues that the film has is right from the movie poster, the lack of one of the main actors from the original, Isla Fisher. Fisher couldn’t appear in this movie due to her pregnancy, but the way they explained her character’s absence is beyond flimsy. They just say she decided to leave their crew. How though? She’s a wanted criminal who was invited to join a shadowy organization. Where did she go? Not that having Lizzy Caplan replaced her as the token female was a bad choice, but it still raises so many questions. And even ignoring the replacement of Fisher, there’s another character who is absent from the original that could easily have been included, Melanie Laurent’s character Alma Dray. The Interpol agent had a good effect on further developing Mark Ruffalo’s character. And yet, there’s not even a mention of her in the script. And it’s not like it would’ve been hard to include her, as there is another agent chasing them down played by Sana Lathan, whose role could easily have been given to Laurent to build the story from the first movie further.

 

Ruffalo’s uncertain role

At the end of Now you see me, we find out that Mark Ruffalo was actually a member of the Eye, a secret organization composed of magicians, and that the whole trial was just his way of recruiting them. And yet, in the sequel, we’re not really sure where he stands in that organization. There are many times when the eye and his character are referred separately. There’s even a few points where Jesse Eisenberg tries to meet with The Eye, and Ruffalo is nowhere to be seen. This needlessly complicates the plot, and conflicts with the sick plot twist at the end of the first movie.

 

Predictable ending

This isn’t so much a contradiction between the two movies, as it is a general complaint, but nevertheless, something must be said about the easy-to-guess plot twist near the end, when Michel Caine reappears and turns out to be one of the main villains. Firstly, are we really supposed to be surprised by the idea that a corrupt English business man was working with Daniel Radcliffe’s character, another corrupt English business man? Second, I’m pretty sure Michael Caine was in promotional material for the movie, like a trailer or a press release. How are you going to hide him from a surprise? This dirties the reputation of the first movie, because that movie was nowhere near as predictable. Regardless, it is one of the things that annoyed me about this film and that’s what this article is about unfortunately.

 

Lamer magic tricks

One of the biggest appeals of this series is the spectacular magic tricks that use great special effects to capture viewer’s imagination. In the first movie, you might be able to figure out one or two tricks without Morgan Freeman walking you through it. A lot of the illusions preformed look like some Harry Potter magic (Thanks to Daniel Radcliffe) In this movie though, the tricks are far less impressive. Some of them, there are hints that are clearly visible to the observant viewers, and others can be explained with simple hand tricks. The biggest disappointment in the movie is the twist at the end, when they fool Michael Caine and Daniel Radcliff into thinking that they’re on a plane, but it turns out that they just simulated the airplane taking off. This is something that anyone with the resources of a movie studio can do, and requires minimal skill on the magician parts. This definitely feels like the series as a whole ran out of steam already, but the worse part is a threequel is possibly in the works. Which fills me with dread.

 

Morgan Freeman’s character reversal

This is, without a doubt, the biggest grievance I have with this film. In the first “Now you see me”, Morgan Freeman plays Thaddeus Bradley, a former magician who does what Freeman does best; explain things. In this case, he breaks down magic tricks, and has the aim of catching the thieving illusionists throughout the movie. In the end, he is brought down by Mark Ruffalo, as explained earlier, was working with the thieves the whole time for the big plot twist at the end. Ruffalo’s animosity for Freeman is explained like this : Bradley caused the death of Ruffalo’s father by exposing his magic and leading him to do a dangerous escape act that led to his death. However, all this is thrown out of the window in the sequel. Bradley is revealed to have been partnered with Ruffalo’s dad, and is a member of the Eye. But what is the purpose of this? Yes, it’s great to have Morgan Freeman explain things, but it should be hard concepts, not the plot line! As mentioned earlier, Ruffalo’s big reveal at the end of the first movie was pretty cool, but this movie’s plot twist makes that seem stupid. It forces you to think about how petty Mark Ruffalo was for holding a grudge against the guy who got his dad killed inadvertently. It also ties into the earlier point about Ruffalo’s position in the eye. How much of a member of the Eye can he be if he didn’t even know Freeman was one of their senior members? And, to add insult to insult, the reason they use for Freeman keeping this as a secret is weak as hell. This ending made me so mad that I sat through the whole thing.

Rob Ito

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