Once in awhile, an all-pervasive silliness grips great actors. Hence, Marlon Brando, considered by many to be the greatest actor ever born, did The Island Of Dr. Moreau in the twilight of his career. Review Rating: 1/5

One hopes the very skilled actor Morgan Freeman is far from the twilight zone of his career. If he continues doing the Now You See Me series, we may not bear to see him for too long.

Stricken with a supreme and ceaseless silliness, Now You See Me 2, the sequel to the inexplicably successful 2013 film which cracked the universal code of collective idiocy, is just as unbearably gratuitous as the first film. And then some more.

Morgan Freeman plays a disgruntled magician monitoring the moves of the plot’s core team with a solemnity that defies all the laws of gravity. Another stalwart, Michael Caine, shows up in this tawdry mish-mash as a vendetta-seeking tycoon while Daniel Radcliffe — that affable chap who iconised himself as Harry Potter — plays Caine’s son.

Morgan Freeman in Now You See Me 2

Caine flaring his nostrils to show a savage indignation and Radcliffe trying hard to get a grip over his slippery role, reminded me of Amrish Puri and Shakti Kapoor in the Bollywood potboilers of the 1980s, except that they were more fun to watch.

The sequel to the magicians’ guide to how to make a fool of audiences while laughing all the way to the bank, recklessly exchanges opportunities to explore the age-old relationship between the art of magic and the realm of the rationale.

There are utterly inane and juvenile episodes of opulent adventurism, peppered with dialogues that seem to have been coined to show how stiff, uni-dimensional characters may sound when they are not provided a broad enough canvas to extend their heroism into a palate of believable bravura.

Everyone is trying to one-up without knowing what the stakes are.

It’s truly dismaying to see great actors like Morgan Freeman and Mark Ruffalo (the latter, still fresh in our minds as the fearless investigative reporter in Spotlight) squander away their habitual equipoise to display what can at best be called the fatuous heroism of the boys-will-be-boys variety.

The plot creates unwarranted tangles within caper-esque wangles designed to dazzle the senses with optical illusions as replacement for true grit and sincere skill. Director John M Chu is a master-conjurer. In his earlier directorial escapades such as the Step Up series, he has shown us how visual velocity can cover up for a lack of directorial density.

Michael Caine and Daniel Radcliffe in Now You See Me 2

The formula doesn’t work here. The presentation is tawdry and tinselled. Parts of the proceedings, with the core cast performing designer-virtuosity on stage, look like Farah Khan’s Happy New Year.

And that is not an encouraging sign at all. The plot thickens and congeals with every twist and turn. The very talented Woody Harrelson shows up in a double role, one of them wearing a ludicrous wig that seems to fit not Harrelson’s head but the mind-space that this feather-brained adventure story occupies with preening self-confidence.

Do yourself a favour. Stay away from this film even if you don’t get tickets for Udta Punjab. Now You See Me 2 makes Happy New Year look inviting. And that’s scary.

Directed by Jon M Chu
Cast: Morgan Freeman, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Daniel Radcliffe, Michael Caine

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