Richard and CP24 anchor Nneka Elliot talk about the weekend’s four big releases, “Now You See Me 2,” the Cos Play freak-out “Warcraft,” the great Greta Gerwig’s “Maggie’s Plan,” and the spooky atmosphere of “The Conjuring 2.”
Richard and CTV NewsChannel morning show host Marcia MacMillan chat up the weekend’s big releases, the magically delicious “Now You See Me 2,” the Cos Play freak-out “Warcraft,” Greta Gerwig’s marvelous “Maggie’s Plan,” and the spooky atmosphere of “The Conjuring 2.”
Three years ago “Now You See Me” played like “Ocean’s Eleven” reimagined by Penn and Teller. A magical heist movie, it introduced a prestidigitation collective known as The Four Horsemen—Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher (replaced by Lizzy Caplan in this sequel), Woody Harrelson and Dave Franco—who outsmarted the FBI and Interpol with some highly focused hocus pocus. The tricksters stole from the rich to give to the poor—the poor people who paid premium prices to see their shows.
When asked how any of this could have happened Interpol agent Alma Vargas (Mélanie Laurent) says, “Some things are best left unexplained.”
Also left unexplained is how a star-studded but modest hit like “Now You See Me” spawned a sequel three years after it briefly played in theatres.
The new film, “Now You See Me 2,” begins one year after the last one ended with the Four Horsemen staging a comeback. This time, however, the trick backfires and the magicians are forced to escape, fleeing from one side of the world to the other via a giant chute.
New York to China in under a minute. “This makes no sense,” says J. Daniel Atlas (Eisenberg) upon arrival in China. Damn right. It’s that kind of movie. Buy into that and the rest of the movie’s twists and turns will seem… if not quite believable than a little less preposterous. The world’s greatest magicians have just become the object of someone else’s magic trick.
In Macau, the Vegas of China, the mysterious tech genius Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe)—imagine Harry Potter with a James Bond villain vibe—forces them to use their skills to pull off a seemingly impossible heist, the theft of “the stick,” a device able to hack any computer on earth. Using misdirection, hypnotism, showmanship and sleight-of-hand—coupled with some good old-fashioned CGI movie magic—the Horsemen must pull off their greatest trick—exposing Mabry.
“Now You See Me 2” has a serious case of the sillies but luckily it embraces its silliness. Revels in it, even. For instance Caplan’s character Lula is best known for a previously unheard of magic trick, pulling a hat out of a rabbit. Make sense? Nope, but in “Now You See Me 2’s” world it doesn’t have to.
It all makes sense in a Harry Houdini misdirected kind of way, but don’t worry if the labyrinthine plot loses you here and there. Every few minutes one of the characters explains what’s just happened, or what is about to happen. Even though magicians aren’t supposed to tell their secrets the Horsemen can’t seem to stop giving away the movie’s riddles. There’s way too much exposition but by and large the mix of action, intrigue and magic is a fun diversion.
“American Hustle, ” the new film from “Silver Linings Playbook” director David O. Russell, bristles with energy.
Imagine the love child of “The Sting” and “Ocean’s Eleven” infused with the verve of the frenetic last thirty minutes of “Goodfellas” and you get the idea.
Branded with the disclaimer, “Some of this actually happened,” “American Hustle” is a fictionalized retelling of the Abscam scandal, an elaborate FBI takedown of corrupt government officials.
Christian Bale plays Irv Rosenfeld, a low level con man with a paunch and Trump-esque comb over. He makes a comfortable living, enough to support his wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence), their son and his mistress and partner-in-crime Sydney (Amy Adams).
His life goes sideways when Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper), an ambitious FBI agent, threatens them with arrest unless they help him run a complicated corruption investigation involving New Jersey mayor Carmen Polito (Jeremy Renner) and other high ranking officials.
There’s a zany tone to “American Hustle.” It plays like a heightened version of real life. Perhaps it is the outrageous 1970s styles—all big hair, wide collars and flared pants—or the edgy, slightly larger-than-life performances from the top-notch cast, but the film feels one step removed from reality. Settle into “American Hustle’s” world and the darkly humorous ride is an enjoyable journey.
Bale leads the cast, but it is very much an ensemble. As the dumpy Irving he is a mass of contradictions. He’s a confidence man with a conscience; a man who feels it’s wrong to entrap politicians so soon after the public cynicism about elected officials after Watergate and Vietnam. Trapped in a loveless marriage, he’s a philanderer who is reluctant to leave Rosalyn because he wants to do the right thing for his son. He genuinely likes Carmine even though he’s about to set him up to do some real jail time.
Bale brings some real complexity to a character who could easily have been a stunt. Some actors might have relied on the weight gain and the bad hair to do the work, but Bale brings him to life and even makes you feel sorry for him.
The standout, in a smaller role, is Lawrence. Realistically she may be too young for the part, but as “the Picasso of passive-aggressive karate,” she’s perfectly cast. With a thick Long Island and perfectly lacquered lips, she plays Rosalyn as a creature of pure emotion, passionate one second, needy the next, driven by jealousy and dysfunction and one too many self-help books.
Adams, Renner and Cooper also distinguish themselves playing preposterous characters with one thing in common—they aspire to be something they are not. Everyone on display is on the hustle, looking to reinvent themselves, and that desperation is what gives the movie its dynamism.
As a backdrop Russell hits all the right period notes, particularly with the music. He uses archival music from the likes of Elton John, Electric Light Orchestra and The Bee Gees to set the mood, but instead of acting as a greatest hits collection of the Me Decade through clever editing it sounds like a soundtrack.
“American Hustle” is one of the year’s best. It’s an entertainingly audacious movie that will doubtless be compared to “The Wolf of Wall Street” because of the similarity in tone and themes, but this time around David O. Russell has almost out-Scorsese’d Scorsese.