Movie plot all twisted

Now You See Me 2

Everyone loves a good plot twist, something you didn’t see coming that makes you re-think everything you had seen.

What no one likes is a story with so many plot twists that you question everything you’ve seen and are left wondering whether a coherent story existed in the first place.

Now You See Me 2 picks up a year and a half after the first film by the same name ends. The Four Horsemen are expert stage magicians and illusionists who are in cahoots to further the interests of a secret ancient global organization of magicians called The Eye.

The group is comprised of illusionist J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), hypnotist Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson), card wizard Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) and token-girl magician (and presumably expert Rube Goldberg Machine builder) Lula (Lizzy Caplan).

The Horsemen have been in hiding to avoid prosecution for their last stunt where they stole millions from a bank in France and hundreds of millions from a wealthy patron, Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine), as part of their Vegas stage show.

Naturally, we are lead to believe that the FBI investigation, spearheaded by agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo), is getting nowhere when, surprise — plot twist — Rhodes is revealed as a double agent and is the brains behind the Horsemen.

Prepare to disengage your brain as NYSM2 is chock full of preposterous circumstances and implausible trickery. Had it accepted its role as nothing more than a light, fluffy piece of eye candy, the film would be an enjoyable ride as this is where it shines.

Unfortunately, we are told right from the beginning that it is going to take itself far more seriously than it should, opening with a tragic scene from Rhodes’s childhood where he witnessed the death of his father Lionel Shrike (Richard Laing), a celebrated magician who drowns when a magic trick involving an escape from a safe goes fatally wrong.

A much younger Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman) reports for the camera, declaiming the foolhardy nature of the stunt and locks eyes with the young boy when it becomes apparent his father isn’t escaping his watery grave.

This contentious relationship carries forward into the present day and doesn’t get resolved until the end of the film when it is revealed that everything Rhodes thought he knew about his dad and Bradley was completely wrong. Plot twist times four….Sigh….

The Four Horsemen (a pretentious name that refers to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse — Death, Famine, War and Conquest) have staged their big come-back appearance to be held at the public launch of an Apple-esque techno giant’s newest must-have product.

In a complex and incredibly convoluted plot twist, Rhodes is outed as being a double agent. Wilder is proven to have faked his own death and the Horsemen are forced to abort their plan and flee the building via their pre-set escape tube on the roof.

However, in yet another plot twist, when they exit the bottom of the tube, they find themselves in Macau, China and prisoner of Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe). They are given the choice of either death or new identities in return for stealing a computer chip (conveniently the size of a playing card) that is able to decode and control all technology.

The chip is being held in a maximum security facility and will be sold to the highest bidder. The group agrees and goes off to plan their attack for which they will require some magician supplies, to be found at the world’s oldest magic shop, conveniently located in Macau. Mission Impossible meets David Copperfield. The 20-minute scene inside the facility involving the theft and concealment of the chip defies description, logic, and well, basic physics.

In the meantime, Rhodes has gone to the prison to visit Bradley, the personality behind their abduction. He reluctantly agrees to sign Bradley out for 24 hours in the hopes that he will be lead to the place where the Four Horsemen have disappeared.

Of course, they end up in the magic shop where, ahem, plot twist. Rhodes’s father had ordered all his supplies from and where there was a duplicate copy of the safe where he died. The owner of the shop gives Rhodes one of his father’s watches, which ends up playing a part in saving his life.

The finale of the movie is a series of fantastic illusions, but the preposterous plot twists will have you ready to throw your popcorn at the screen in frustration.

As the film trudges along to its very long 129 minute conclusion, the group winds up at the headquarters of The Eye where Rhodes and Bradley finally come to terms with their past together, a plot twist that makes  as much sense as the numerous other plot twists we’ve already been subjected to.

It is implied that we are in for a Now You See Me 3 as it seems the producers aren’t quite done milking this formulaic convention or these actors for all their worth.

Great acting talent abounds in this cast:  Freeman lends an air of believability and class to any role he’s given; Eisenberg is enjoyable as the arrogant cranky pants Atlas; Harrelson gets to play his own psychotic evil twin brother; Ruffalo is sincere and believable even when delivering improbable dialogue; and the late, great Caine would be a joy to watch reading the phone book.

Director John Chu (Step Up 1 and  2) certainly has an eye for detail and is good at creating visually interesting cinematography, but with a script that meanders like a drunk stumbling through a funhouse and dialogue that sounds like it was pilfered from a daytime soap opera (no disrespect intended to the soaps) his directorial abilities are not enough to save this film from mediocrity.

Now You See Me? I wish I hadn’t.

I give this film 2 out of 5 hearts.



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About the Author

Kim Foreman-Rhindress is a graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City and London Western Conservatory of music for piano and voice. 

Kim has been performing in theatre and film for over 30 years in Canada, NYC, Palm Beach, Los Angeles, and the Netherlands. She has written several plays which have been produced in Canada and the U.S., and is the founder of Kelowna Voice Lab - helping people find their voice, be it singing or acting. 

A working musician, she performs regularly in Kelowna with her husband, Jim Rhindress, in an acoustic duo Smitten, and with her vintage trio Kitsch 'n Sync.  

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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