Saturday, February 24, 2018
Things To Do

Review: 'Now You See Me 2' makes all the good of the original disappear

For their next act, the illusionist con artists from Now You See Me will make every ounce of goodwill that movie earned disappear.

Now You See Me 2 is everything its opening act avoided, a frenetic procession of willfully impossible fakeouts. We seek more cleverly executed stings from the Four Horsemen and wind up stung.

The first movie worked because it offered explanations of what amazed. Even if an explanation was baloney, a layer of possibility was established for anything the movie and its characters wanted to do. Now You See Me operated like its heroes: genial, and so open about its intent to deceive that viewers like me bought into it. Now You See Me was like watching Penn and Teller embrace and expose the illusionary arts. The sequel is an America's Got Talent washout waving a cape.

After a spectacular escape to end Part 1, the Four Horsemen (minus Isla Fisher) are hiding in plain sight, cult heroes for their Robin Hood heists. Their FBI mole/ringleader Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) is throwing his chief (Sanaa Lathan) off the trail, and hoax buster Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman) is in jail.

The remaining Horsemen are killing time with card tricks and hypnotism riffs. Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson), J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg) and Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) are joined by Lulu (Lizzy Caplan), "the girl Horseman" so convincing as a token female that any glimmer of intelligence contradicts the character.

The plot concerns a tech mogul (Daniel Radcliffe, feigning tough) needing a computer chip (yawn) stolen from what could be anywhere but the studio preferred China since it's a huge overseas market. Highlight an Asian star like Jay Chou (The Green Hornet) and the movie sells itself.

Taking over for Louis Leterrier, a decent action director, Jon M. Chu is so out of synch with the first movie to suggest he never watched it. Certainly the screenplay, again by Ed Solomon, ignores what worked before.

The Horsemen aren't show biz Robin Hoods this time but corporate whistleblowers, and being showered with unexpected cash is a sexier movie fantasy. In the first movie, illusions were mostly performed on stages, in controlled environments, bringing a degree of logic to everything clicking perfectly into place.

Anything can happen anywhere in Now You See Me 2, leading to an over-suspension of disbelief that the first movie kept in check. It's the difference between being fooled and being lied to. The only worse trick Chu's movie could pull on moviegoers is Harrelson playing twins, one a mincing, omnisexual cad with a curly hair transplant.

Tah-dah.

Contact Steve Persall at [email protected] or (727) 893-8365. Follow @StevePersall.

Comments

Saturday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYAutosXfinity: Rinnai 250 qualifying9 a.m.FS1Trucks: Active Pest Control 200 qualifying10:30 a.m.FS1Xfinity: Rinnai 2502 p.m.FS1Trucks: Active Pest Control 2004:30 p.m.FS1Baseball, spring trainingRays at Red Sox1 p.m.MLB;620-AMWhite Sox at Marine...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Some ideas for things to do outside in spring

Some ideas for things to do outside in spring

Updated: 10 hours ago
Annihilation' is strange, beautiful biological mystery

Annihilation' is strange, beautiful biological mystery

Updated: 10 hours ago
SoundBytes: The Shadowboxers, Lit, O-Town, Saba, Wolfgang Gartner and more

SoundBytes: The Shadowboxers, Lit, O-Town, Saba, Wolfgang Gartner and more

— The Shadowboxers will open for their mentor Justin Timberlake on May 15 at Amalie Arena in Tampa. You might remember the pop-rock group from their several performances around the 2017 College Football Playoff national championship game in Tam...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Top things to do on Friday

Top things to do on Friday

Here are our editors picks for things to do on Feb. 23.
Updated: 11 hours ago
Your 4-year-old daughter could land a role in ‘Waitress’ at the Straz

Your 4-year-old daughter could land a role in ‘Waitress’ at the Straz

TAMPA — Could your 4-year-old be the next Lulu? A touring Broadway show wants to find out. Waitress, which runs April 24-29 at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, is looking for a local 4- to 5-year old to play a small but c...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Top things to do on Friday, Feb. 23

Top things to do on Friday, Feb. 23

Blast Friday: The Romantics: The family-friendly food and craft vendor festival featuring a free live concert and a beer garden. 5:30 p.m., 400 Block of Cleveland Street, Osceola Avenue and Cleveland Street, Clearwater. Free. (727) 464-7200. Pasco C...
Published: 02/23/18
What to watch this weekend: ‘The Walking Dead,’ ‘Good Girls,’ catch up on ‘Heathers’ and ‘Jessica Jones’

What to watch this weekend: ‘The Walking Dead,’ ‘Good Girls,’ catch up on ‘Heathers’ and ‘Jessica Jones’

Nude zombie alert: The Walking DeadThe Walking Dead isn't slowing down anytime soon. The hit zombie series returns for the second half of its eighth season Sunday and AMC recently announced it was renewed for a ninth. In this season's first eight epi...
Published: 02/23/18
The Florida Orchestra taps composer Michael Ippolito to capture the state’s sound

The Florida Orchestra taps composer Michael Ippolito to capture the state’s sound

ST. PETERSBURG — The composer sat in semi-darkness, his hand drifting like a slow pendulum at his side. On the Mahaffey Theater stage, the violins led a creaking and mysterious journey through a cypress swamp, the inspiration for the first movement.T...
Published: 02/23/18
Author Allison Winn Scotch gives a nod to Steven King

Author Allison Winn Scotch gives a nod to Steven King

NightstandAllison Winn ScotchScotch, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, is the author of several novels. Her newest, Between Me and You, set in Los Angeles, is the story of Ben and Tatum, a couple whose marriage is unraveling, due perhaps ...
Published: 02/23/18