Now You See Me (2013) & Now You See Me 2 (2016) Movie Review(s) by Stephen McLaughlin

Now You See Me (2013) 

Director: Louis Leterrier 
Writers: Ed Solomon (screenplay), Boaz Yakin (screenplay) 
Stars: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine 

Now You See Me is about four magicians brought together by a mysterious hooded figure to perform the ultimate trick.

Each of the four magicians (Eisenberg, Harrelson, Fisher and Franco) are drafted in for their individual talents however these aren’t really highlighted or explored during the film in any great detail, although each are shown glimpses of what they can do in their introductions.

As for the story, the concept is original and the cast is jam packed with all stars giving good credible performances. The only issue I have is the lack of character development.

We don’t get any background information on any of the magicians (apart from Atlas and Henley who used to work together) That’s not to say that there is any lack of interesting characters, each of the “Four Horsemen” bring a very unique style to the movie and the sheer amount of talent present in each scene guarantees that you will be entertained.

As for the visuals, in the early part of the film has our street magicians working their magic while engaging in fast, and smart, patter.

The camera work in the early moments are irritating (moving, spinning, and swirling) and thankfully, this is short lived and dissipates as the movie moves on.

Eisenberg as J. Daniel Atlas has a real knack for playing arrogant, self assured characters (Social Network, Batman v Superman) Harrelson (Merrit McKinney) never disappoints in anything he does regardless of the quality of film (looking forward to seeing him in the Han Solo movie) Along with a solid performance by Fisher (Henley Reeves) and Franco as Jack Wilder playing a lesser role to the other three but who performs a great fight scene with Ruffalo in the last 3rd of the movie. (Like a Gambit v Hulk face off)

What appears at first is Ruffalo’s Character Dylan Rhodes (FBI) reminding me of Tommy Lee Jones’ Sam Gerrard from The Fugitive (1993) hunting the magicians down, but always a frustrating 3 steps behind them.

Rhodes is accompanied by Interpol’s Alma Dray played by the excellent French actress Mélanie Laurent (Inglourious Basterds (2009) who I feel keeps calm and grounded against Ruffalo’s character who appears to be losing it at times pursuing the magicians.

The Now You See Me supporting cast of Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine (reunited a year after The Dark Knight Trilogy concluded) are used sparingly but are still used when it matters. Freeman is Thaddeus Bradley a “magic debunker” pursuing the four to expose their intentions and their magic for profit and fame, whilst Caine is Arthur Tressler who is the benefactor and founder of the show hosted by the magicians and is annoyed at Bradley’s meddling.

There is a twist at the end which I felt was a little predictable but I won’t go into that and if you haven’t viewed this movie from 2013 yet, I will let you work it out for yourselves.

Now You See Me is an okay entertaining film, which is worth a viewing. If you are a fan of heist or magic films you’ll enjoy it and may go back for multiple viewings. The pacing is consistent and the actors do a great job at delivering their lines. But to be honest I didn’t think Now You See Me warranted a sequel……or did it?

Now You See Me 2 (2016) 

Director: Jon M. Chu 
Writers: Ed Solomon (screenplay), Ed Solomon (story by) 
Stars: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, Morgan Freeman, Lizzy Caplan, Michael Caine, Daniel Radcliffe 

Remember the first movie from back in 2013 was an entertaining crime / thriller with an underlying mystery that was wrapped up with a little twist on its conclusion? Now You See Me 2 takes place 18 months after the original and focuses on uncovering the mystery of the eye, the organisation that recruited our “The Four Horsemen” in the first film.

The plot is interesting but the mystery isn’t quite as good as the first one, and the thrills are lacking. This time round I actually liked the group and felt that I was rooting for them, which I didn’t in the original strangely enough, as I was rooting for Dylan Rhodes “The Fifth Horseman” (Ruffalo) who in the first film was against them(?)

In addition, they added some character development that the last installment lacked (as I previously mentioned in my first part of this review) with a flashback scene for Rhodes with his Dad performing a dangerous trick. It gave him a backstory, a reason for being the way he was/is and particularly with Thaddeus Bradley and his history with Rhodes.

Multiple characters have a vendetta against The Four Magicians and they go to great lengths to get to them. However, one of the new villains Walter (Daniel Radcliffe) was more petulant than menacing and came off as a spoilt brat.

In terms of the casting this is another major strength of the movie. Eisenberg reprises his role as Atlas who still has ego issues.

Woody Harrelson provided some of the funniest moments on the screen with his banter and dialogue in particular with his brother.

Dave Franco took a bigger role in this one (as previously mentioned was almost a bit part in the first movie, bringing humour and wit that I really enjoyed.

Mark Ruffalo, was a totally different character in this sequel, but that is down to his role (and secret) in the first movie, but it works on a different level than his original character.

Lula (Lizzy Caplan) comes in to fill the shoes of Henley who is absent from this one (due to Isla Fisher’s pregnancy) at first she was annoying, talked too much and at times I felt over acted, but to be fair as the story unfolded came into her own and started becoming a much more integral cog into the mix.

Overall Now You See Me 2 is a fun, entertaining sequel that is enjoyable in parts and while the story isn’t quite as thrilling, I didn’t think Now You See Me warranted a sequel if I’m being honest. But it has been confirmed that there will be a sequel to the sequel in 2019 with Isla Fisher returning as Henley along with the rest of the cast. See you in two years Horsemen, maybe.

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