'Now You See Me 2' is an Enjoyable Sequel if Not Truly Magical One

(Summit Entertainment)
At the end of 2013’s Now You See Me, we saw the “Four Horsemen” arrive at a merry-go-round. They all jump on and then the credits rolled. There was no explanation to this head-scratching scene, but that seem to be the theme for the film’s sequel as well. The movie begins one year later after the events of the first film and the Robin Hood-like troupe has been in hiding all this time. Where have they been hiding? It’s not explained. The missing character of the female horsemen, Henley Reeves, is briefly mentioned, but for her reason for not being seen? It’s not explained – at least not fully. (It was reported that Ilsa Fisher was pregnant at the time of filming for the movie so she had to bow out.) She is replaced by Lula (Lizzy Caplan), a magician known for actually pulling a hat out of a rabbit. Why is she right for the team? It’s never explained And on it goes. The strange thing is, it doesn’t matter.

I rather enjoyed Now You See Me 2 almost as much as I did the first one, but for all the wrong reasons. Well, actually, despite all of the wrong reasons. For a movie based on magic, the acts are pretty slim and some of the “slight of hand” is heavily covered with CGI. There is little to no character development, most of the jokes fall flat and the story is full of plot holes. Now, you would think that would warrant this flick a bad review, but this is still a very fun film, but only for those who enjoyed the first film.

For the Now You See Me sequel, the four ego-driven magicians, come together again for one final performance but something goes wrong and the group find themselves reappearing in a different location than they had intended. Some evil is afoot in the form of Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliff), a tech prodigy who challenges the quartet to pull off their most challenging heist yet.

Meanwhile, Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman) is right where we left him, in a jail cell threatening to take down for the four horsemen for putting him in there in the first place. Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo), who is the group’s leader while serving as a FBI agent as a cover, has a new watchdog following him around. Her name is Deputy Director Natalie Austin (Sanaa Lathan). And that is about all I can say without revealing too much of the plot.

As for the acting, I used to think that Jesse Eisenberg was a good actor until I realized that he pretty much plays the same character over and over again and this film is no different. While not particularly funny, Lizzy Caplan does make for a good addition to the team. For some reason, Woody Harrelson not only reprises his role as the mentalist Merrit McKinney but also his evil twin brother – with hair. There really isn’t any need for this identical twin, but Harrelson does an excellent job with the task anyway.

While fewer magic acts are shown than the original, the ones that do appear are fun to watch. Most notably is one scene where the four play hot potato with one playing card. It’s pretty clever. There aren’t many “how did they do that?” moments, but the story is still a fun ride even if it doesn’t all make sense.

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