Movie Review: Now You See Me 2

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The magicians known as the Horsemen must regroup when they are outed and separated by a new enemy.

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John Chu, 2016

The Horsemen have been forced to go into hiding after their illegal actions of the previous film. They are frustrated by the stall in their magical careers, with Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) believed dead and their leader Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) still keeping his connection to them secret while working for the FBI. Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg) starts to look into becoming the group’s leader, making secret meetings with mysterious magical organisation The Eye. Shortly after the outgoing Lula (Lizzy Caplan) joins the group, they are set to make their first appearance in a year, outing the privacy-destroying criminality of a tech company. But the show is a disaster, and when it’s all over Rhodes and Wilder are outed, with the four junior Horsemen stuck in Macau. There they meet Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe), their rather demented new adversary, who forces them to steal an all-powerful computer chip in order to regain their freedom. Meanwhile, Rhodes makes a deal with the devil – or in this case, professional magic exposer turned jailbird Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman) – to find his proteges.

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The first Now You See Me film was a slight affair that seemed to capture people’s attentions with its flashy, fun style despite a silly plot. The second film is pretty much the same thing again. It’s fizzy and fun and light, with a great cast that seems to (mostly) be having a good time, but it’s unlikely to stay with you. A large part of that comes down to the script, which once again sacrifices logic and fun for a bunch of mystical mumbo jumbo about The Eye that completely derails the movie. Looking behind the curtain to see a bunch of silly twists about the magical Illuminati detracts from the magic more than pretty much anything else, which is a shame, because there’s so much to enjoy in this film. The direction from Jon Chu is really nice. The film looks gorgeous, full of energy as it slides effortlessly between shots. The only times it falls down are during the horribly over-edited fight scenes. There are only two really great magical moments in the film, but both of them are genuinely cool. There’s an incredibly overlong card trick during what could be a cool heist scene if they cut at least five minutes of it.

The cast, for the most part, works nicely together. Daniel Radcliffe is having an absolute ball as the film’s mad new villain, delighting in lording over our beleaguered heroes. Mark Ruffalo is the glue that holds the film together, and he’s given more dramatic work to do than anyone else – his storyline is a little overwrought, but the interactions with Morgan Freeman are interesting. Lizzy Caplan is a goddamn delight, despite the overt sexism in her role as The Girl (the film hangs a lantern on this fact and then has her say, in essence, “I’m not like other girls”, completely undoing any goodwill). Dave Franco has fun in spite of his role still being slight, and Woody Harrelson absolutely relishes a new twist on his role. Only Jesse Eisenberg seems like he wishes he was elsewhere, sleepwalking through most of the film. His character’s testiness feels less like an acting choice and more like his own frustration coming through.Much of the magic stretches credulity, but there’s still some great stuff in here – Atlas’s final trick is astonishing. There are plot holes and silliness abounding, but the film accepts and relishes its light plot with frothy fun.

Now You See Me 2 on IMDb

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