"Now You See Me 2" Review
“Now You See Me 2” is the follow-up to 2013’s surprise hit magician/crime caper that’s a pure guilty pleasure: a great ensemble combined with an interesting story that makes-up for its flaws with some fantastic visual tricks. Happy to say this sequel offers pretty much the same, satisfying results.
In fact, much of “Now You See Me 2” follows the successful formula of the original. Most of the cast is back, though there are a few additions, with Lizzy Caplan from Showtime’s “Masters of Sex” as the new, female Horseman, and Daniel Radcliffe as a businessman hiding from the public eye, but seeking involvement with the real “Eye” - That’s the organization the Robin Hood-esque Horseman illusionists (played by Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, and FBI agent Dylan Rhodes - with Mark Ruffalo back in that role) look to for inspiration for their mind-blowing stunts to expose financial criminals.
Like its predecessor, “Now You See Me 2” spans the globe, beginning in the US before heading to Macau, the Las Vegas of China, and finally London. And it’s important to pay close attention to the plot, which involves good guys becoming bad - and vice versa. Things gets a little too complex by the end - but this doesn’t keep you from enjoying what’s going on.
One of the weaknesses of the first “Now You See Me” was that there was more time devoted to Ruffalo’s Rhodes than the Horsemen. This time there’s a nice balance and appropriate time given to an effective subplot involving a significant event in the childhood of one of the illusionists. Magic acts often involve twins, and new-to-the-franchise director Jon M. Chu decided to give Harrelson’s character an identical twin (who’s also played by Harrelson). It’s tough getting used to.
The cast, which also includes the returns of Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine, is fairly solid, though the real stars of the show, once again, are the magic tricks. A security checkpoint sequence involving one single playing card is a lot of fun. David Copperfield was a co-producer on this, and he inspired some of the mystifying illusions for both installments.
Hip, slick and full of flavor, “Now You See Me 2” is easy-breezy summer entertainment. I just hope the already-announced third installment of the series ups the ante a bit - because, once you know how a trick is done, the magic disappears.