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Now You See Me 2 Review

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With a cast that included Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Michael Caine, and Morgan Freeman, one hell of a hook (stage magicians pull off daring heists as part of their shows), and some great visuals, 2013’s Now You See Me was a refreshing slice of entertainment that enjoyed massive success at the box office. Quadrupling it’s budget was always a sign that a sequel would come our way, and here we are. Now You See Me 2 sees the Horsemen (Eisenberg, Harrelson, Dave Franco and newcomer Lizzie Caplan) gone to ground after the events of the first film left them wanted fugitives. When their secretive handler Dylan Rhodes (Ruffalo) assigns them the task of exposing a corrupt businessman, they find themselves getting a taste of their own medicine, captured and forced to steal a revolutionary computer chip for reclusive technology prodigy Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe).


Sequels always go bigger and bolder, and Now You See Me 2 is no exception, doubling down on everything good and bad from the original. Spectacle trumps plot, and while incoming director Jon M. Chu does live up to the original’s Louis Leterrier, all the visual sleight of hand and CGI doesn’t make up for the fact you need a sturdy skeleton to hang it off. The story wastes no time in getting going, but once the set-up is out of the way, a lull sets in and you can pretty much see the wheels spinning on screen. It doesn’t help that the sequel attempts to deepen the mythology teased first time round, further muddying an already convoluted plot. The real problem is this movie built around a big con, on both the on screen and real life audience. Because of that you will always be looking for the big reveal. It worked first time round because it was something new, by the sequel we can see the pattern, know the tells, robbing proceedings of any mystery or power. It would have helped if the movie was more concerned with the set-up, but it is always about the reveal, discarding all logic in favour of further pulling the rug, no matter how unsuccessfully, out from underneath the audience.

Thankfully, Chu has a great handle on the set pieces, especially a second act heist revolving around a card trick that will boggle your mind with how fluid the action is. Each of the Horsemen’s stunts are built spectacularly, providing no end of excitement and spectacle, and that cast seem to be having an absolute ball only helps matters. Eisenberg again is incredibly likable as the endearingly prickish Danny Atlas, yammering a mile a minute as the de facto lead here. He plays off Ruffalo really well, as the two butt heads for leadership of the group, and the once and future Hulk is given plenty of dramatic beats to sink his teeth into. Harrelson and Franco kinda melt into the background, even with Harrelson having a ball in dual roles, but are still given plenty to do. Of the newcomers, Caplan injects some great energy into a role that is pretty much just a replacement for Isla Fisher (opting not to come back due to pregnancy). But it’s Radcliffe who steals the show as the almost Bond villain-esque Mabry. His sheer joy and enthusiasm pretty much drips from the screen as he almost bounces off the scenery. With a third installment already on the horizon, fingers crossed he makes a return.


Even with a story that never fully engages, Now You See Me 2 is a great Summer blockbuster, all style and spectacle. Even if the narrative may leave you wanting, you will still be entertained.







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The Movie Bit: Now You See Me 2 Review
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