While the original 2013 magical caper was a big hit, it's style-over-substance approach didn't exactly scream out for a follow-up. But here we are, with go-to sequel man Jon M. Chu at the helm (he also directed the second Step Up and G.I. Joe movies). Most of the high-octane cast is back for more trickery, but the plot is even murkier this time.
Since their last whiz-bang stunt, the Four Horsemen have been laying low. Their leader Dylan (Mark Ruffalo) continues to work in the FBI, helping Daniel, Merrit and Jack (Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson and Dave Franco) plot their next caper, now joined by quirky illusionist Lula (Lizzy Caplan). Their latest project is to expose corruption at a New York conglomerate, but the stunt is ambushed, and the quartet mysteriously finds themselves in Macau, coerced by a tech genius (Daniel Radcliffe) into staging an elaborate heist. Meanwhile, Dylan's cover is blown, so he teams up with veteran Thaddeus (Morgan Freeman) and heads to Macau himself, chased by his FBI boss (Sanaa Latham). And it all goes down in London.
The round-the-world plot gives the movie some very cool locations, and the plot races so quickly that most audiences won't notice that it makes virtually no logical sense at all. There are flashy distractions at every turn, from sleight of hand to vanishing acts to gross-out gags to enormous double-bluffs, and all of this is thoroughly entertaining even if the script itself feels strangely incomplete. Most sequences tend to end before they get to the point, while action scenes are choppy and incoherent. The only set-piece that works is the kinetic central heist, which hinges on a rapidly flung playing card. But even though it's uneven and clunky, the film remains entertaining simply because of the magical shenanigans and snarky dialogue.
Continue reading: Now You See Me 2 Review
The idea of magicians conducting a series of heists is a great one, but this under-developed film never quite seizes the opportunity. Even its terrific A-list cast can't make much of the lame plot. And director Leterrier is so enamoured with magic that he packs the film with whizzy digital trickery. Which completely misses the point.
At the centre are four illusionists: card trickster Daniel (Eisenberg), hypnotist Merrit (Harrelson), escapologist Henley (Fisher) and street magician Jack (Franco). They're summoned by a mysterious figure to team up for a series of elaborate performances funded by a wealthy benefactor (Caine). First up is a Las Vegas show that involves stealing millions of euros from a Paris bank and raining them down on the audience. This attracts the attention of FBI Agent Rhodes (Ruffalo) and Interpol's Dray (Laurent), who follow them to their next shows in New Orleans and New York. As does a notorious debunker (Freeman) determined to expose their secrets.
The film never quite gets the balance right, as we're not sure if we should root for these flashy young magicians or the people they're leading on a wild goose chase. But there's plenty of eye candy to keep us happy, as each whizzy stunt goes over-the-top to make us wonder what's really happening here. Everything this quartet does has an anarchist slant, stealing from the wealthy to help the needy, which adds a tinge of topicality. Although the gratuitous action scenes and ludicrous effects leave the film about as realistic as a Road Runner cartoon.
Continue reading: Now You See Me Review
Evan (Murphy) is a high-flying financial executive who's not as attentive to his perky daughter Olivia (Shahidi) as he should be. Sharing custody with his ex (Parker), he only barely hears what Olivia says, and is shocked to discover that her imaginary friends are giving sound investment advice. So he starts using their tips at work, which both improves his job prospects and his relationship with Olivia. But this comes undone when his boss (Cox) offers a prime promotion to either him or his smarmy office rival (Church).
Continue reading: Imagine That Review
For Evan Danielson (Murphy), life centers solely on work. As a financial advisor for major companies and clients, he must stay ahead of the competition both outside and within the firm. His chief competition is the newly hired Johnny Whitefeather (Thomas Haden Church). Playing up his Native American connections, the rival undermines Evan's confidence and when their boss Tom Stevens (Ronny Cox) suggests he will be stepping down, the race to replace him is on. Unfortunately, our hero's plans are complicated by the arrival of his daughter Olivia (Yara Shahidi). Still lost in a world of imaginary friends and security blankets, she tries her dad's nerves -- that is, until her fantasy games start accurately predicting fiscal trends. Soon, Evan is desperate for Olivia's help, hoping it will land him the big promotion.
Continue reading: Imagine That Review
In The In-Laws (based on the 1979 film of the same name), like most other Michael Douglas vehicles, his gaunt face is rarely off the camera. Wisely, director Andrew Fleming inserts a hilarious Albert Brooks as the perfect remedy for Douglas's self-absorption.
Continue reading: The In-Laws (2003) Review
Simple story line: Alien must come to Earth and impregnate female human being to establish future dominance of his planet's race. Comedic premise: Alien must learn how to communicate to female human beings. Comedy rolls on: Alien encounters and makes ass of himself to female human beings. Comedy continues: Alien tracked by rogue FAA agent. Comedy continues even more: Alien meets female human and falls in love. Cue drama. That's about it.
Continue reading: What Planet Are You From? Review
Alas, it doesn't look good. Bill and Ted are walking mistakes as it is. They can't pronounce Socrates and believe Caeser was "a salad dressing dude." But their grasp of superlative adjectives like triumphant and gnarly is impressive indeed, so maybe there's hope.
Continue reading: Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure Review
Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure was a tremendous hit in 1989 and a sequel was immediately in the works. Where the first film took our stoner heroes through time, Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey upped the ante and took them to hell. Literally, the original title of the film was Bill & Ted Go to Hell. The plot is awash in weird humor and outlandish gags as Bill and Ted attempt to defeat two evil robotic versions of themselves, avoid death, save history, and otherwise remain cool.
Continue reading: Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey Review
Thornton's reserved performance, involving lots of aimless shuffling around town and empty stares into nothingness, is well suited to the rhythms of Solomon's glacially-paced film (which he wrote as well as directed); his Manual a man who, having been unceremoniously dumped back into society against his will (he believes he deserves to stay in prison for his crime), doesn't know how to pick up the pieces of his non-existent life and move forward. With long thinning grey locks and a weathered, creased face, Manual is like a ghost forever doomed to haunt the locale of his greatest error, and when he moves through a subway station tunnel directly after leaving the Big House, it's not surprising to find that the crowds rush past him without acknowledging his presence. Thornton plays the character as though he had shriveled up from the inside out, and his expressions of bemused confusion and timid fright convey the feelings of unwieldy guilt and desperation that plague his conscience.
Continue reading: Levity Review
When did banality and pandering become okay? Just steal from Hong Kong, The Matrix, and a kitschy TV show from the mid-1970s and that's a movie? Charlie's Angels is one of the worst examples of action film homogeneity and shameless duplicity in any film I've seen in ages.
Continue reading: Charlie's Angels Review
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