Now You See Me 2 - The Fast and The Furious for Illusionists
Now You See Me introduced an interesting concept amidst the exponential rise of superhero movies. It presented the generic heist movie formula in a modern style with characters that were not quite superheroes, but not the average man. Magicians, to be exact-- more of the cool Criss Angel types than the campy Houdini types. What it did successfully was combine a James Bond-eque feel with a modern day Robin Hood. Though it wasn't critics' cup of tea, NYSM magically destroyed box office expectations, especially abroad.
Now You See Me: The Second Act takes place one year after the events of NYSM1. Though most actors returned for the sequel, some did not, and their disappearance is brushed off nonchalantly. Character personalities strengthen-- J. Daniel Atlas' (Jesse Eisenberg) collected demeanor, Merritt McKinney's (Woody Harrelson) chatty casualness, and Jack Wilder's (Dave Franco) restless arrogance-- during the straining parts of the film. But it's the newest Horseman, Lula May (Lizzy Caplan), who offers a lot of opportunity to steal the show but ultimately gets the short end of the stick.
NYSM2 lacked realism in the performances and tricks, sacrificed due to lack of ideas and instead settled with CG scenes that went on a bit too long. What made the the first film so interesting was the magic tricks that came with explanation afterwards, and what made it cringeworthy was the parts that were inexplicably pure CG magic. NYSM2 had more CG magic than street magic up its sleeve. The story seemed to be written around these cool ideas for tricks and gags, instead of coming up with gimmicks to advance the plotline as if plot was an afterthought.
With a huge cast of A-list actors, NYSM2 didn't have to make sense. A convoluted plotline, nonsensical twists for the sake of twists, and frankly a severe lack of actor Jay Chou leaves a sort of emptiness that resonates afterwards. However, it is the sleek aesthetic, character's professional showmanship, the fun large cast, the mysticism, Daniel Radcliffe, and confusing yet suspenseful story that makes this film very entertaining to watch. Early on, you'll realize nothing makes sense, because it doesn't have to make sense much like The Fast and The Furious series post-Tokyo Drift.
The film boasts feelings of finding family among friends, ride-and-die-together camaraderie, and sharp looking suits for that champagne and caviar lifestyle. Maybe it's not a masterpiece, but it will make you want to stop the rain afterwards.