Some movies are so awful that they don’t deserve anything but derision. Now You See Me 2–the worst of the movie’s possible titles–is one of those movies. I hate this movie not only because it’s a steaming pile of crap, but also because it has the ability to make me so angry. It isn’t even worth more than a millisecond of thought because a lobotomy would be needed if you allowed it to gestate too long up there, but alas, I’ve allowed it to ravage me. It’s a blight on 2016 cinema, an embarrassment to all the good–or at least not hopelessly incompetent–filmmakers whose movies have to share theater space with this turd.
“You just aren’t able to suspend your disbelief!” some people might tell me. “You just can’t appreciate a fun movie!” I can do both of those things. The problem with these movies is that it’s not just suspending your disbelief; it’s accepting shitty filmmaking and being expected to go “OOOH! AAAAH!” like you’re a pre-teen just discovering that girls are pretty. This is essentially two hours of self-congratulatory editing and CGI filled with excruciatingly dumb scenes like Woody Harrelson HYPNOTIZING SOMEONE. Good for you if you can enjoy this and find the centerpiece of the movie–a heist scene in which the Four Horsemen smugly throw around a playing card–cool, but you and I are on very different wavelengths here.
Let’s now talk about the cast and crew, all of whom should be ashamed of themselves. I respect and like most of the cast in general, but within the context of this movie, I abhor all of them and their life decisions. In fact, the most respectable one here is Isla Fisher, who couldn’t reprise her character due to a pregnancy and should be thanking that baby with all her heart (good job to Melanie Laurent as well). Her replacement, Lizzy Caplan, is a phenomenal actress and seems like a really awesome person; however, that does not apply to her performance in this movie whatsoever, and when something makes me dislike Lizzy Caplan of all people, you know they did something wrong. Who else? Eisenberg? Jesse Eisenberg from this and Jesse Eisenberg from BvS should go pummel each other’s faces and leave us all alone. Harrelson? I wanted to rip the wig off of that twin brother character and shove it down his throat. Radcliffe? I like that he seems down for anything these days, but based on this, maybe he shouldn’t be. Ruffalo? I’m just going to re-watch Zodiac instead. Franco? I remember seeing him at a red carpet one time, and that was the most pointless celebrity viewing ever. Caine and Freeman? Too old for this shit.
I understand why the movie has the cast it does, though. They just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to work with Jon M. Chu, venerable director of Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, Jem and the Holograms, and G.I. Joe: Retaliation. As awful as the first movie was, at least it had some style, style that could subsequently be ground into paste for this movie by the wise hands of Mr. Chu. We also have screenwriter Ed Solomon to thank, someone who presumably wanted to cash in a quick check before completing that upcoming Soderbergh collaboration for HBO…you know, something that actually sounds like it’d be good. The screenplay for this movie is just a bunch of wasted paper that has no value whatsoever and contributes to the destruction of our planet without adding anything to humanity. The “banter” is painful, the character development is nonexistent, and the story is usually either incoherent or just plain stupid. I honestly cannot find any redeeming aspect to this movie whatsoever. It is simply a failure of filmmaking and storytelling on every level.
Photo credit: Now You See Me 2, K/O Paper Products