Come in Close. Closer. Because the more it is you think you can see, the easier it will be to make an unnecessary sequel.
This rip-off of the totally iconic line from the first Now You See Me is what came to mind when we were approaching the finale of the sequel, Now You See Me 2, when J Daniel Atlas (played really well by Jesse Eissenberg) literally stops rain and falls into a puddle only to disappear. There are many moments like this in Now You See Me 2 where rationale is thrown out of the window for pure entertainment. Now don’t get me wrong there were parts like that in the first movie that similarly relegated rationale and common sense for a spectacle, however they we were well earned. Conclusions to moments at least grounded in a structured world where we felt so invited we actually could believe everything in it could happen. This is what Now You See Me 2 got so fundamentally wrong, the idea that because the first movie was so well directed and structured and we believed in the world that was created, we left our intelligence at the door. We walked in with our minds switched off automatically, not at the request of the movie. That the “Bigger is Better” size queen attitude it brought would be salvaged by the inter-contextualized knowledge we have about the previous movie.
Upon my third watching of this monstrosity…
Wait before I even go on. Can we talk about Woody Harrelson’s twin. WHY WAS THE CHARACTER EVEN CONSIDERED IMPORTANT!!!!! There is nothing at all that he brought forward to the table. GOD THIS MOVIE IS BAD! IT’S BAD BECAUSE THERE IS A GOOD MOVIE HIDING IN IT!!!
Upon my fourth watch of this monstrosity, I realized the problem is not the sequel. The illness that seems to be plaguing the film world so badly now, the “need to cash in on something that sold – so much that anything will do even if we change director who gives a crap attitude”. Rather the issue is there is a world created by the first movie. A world that warranted deeper exploration. A world where magic was actually treated as a character and not as a by-product of creating awe. Not a movie that was moving simply from moment to moment (as stupidly convenient as everything was in the first one) but rather taking it’s time to introduce itself to you, and make an incredibly fun conversation with you. The problem is not the sequel, it’s lacking creativity with your sequels. It’s building on already known moments from your previous movie and literally waiving your arms viciously on screen referencing them.
I think it is important as world of creatives and audiences of creativity, to understand the grave danger that movies like this do culturally to films. They break the necessity to think before a pen goes down on a paper under the notion that your movie is stupid fun. It is the flawed thinking that a big name will make you a good movie. I don’t think we can fight the “Hollywood Sequel Wave” of the decade. However we can fight for even fun switch your brain off movies to have the audacity to treat us like human beings with some intelligence. it’s simple, stop sucking up to the illusion of entertainment because of awe, but rather because of engagement.