Now You See Me 2
Three of the four magicians from Now You See Me return for a sequel where they are tasked with exposing a billionaire tech giant. Where Now You See Me was Las Vegas stage-show gloss, the sequel is street magic grit. A change in the writing team and a new director means a different take on the Four Horseman, a name that is still not linked to anything. They find themselves outsmarted and exposed by a new enemy related to one of their previous targets, as their FBI agent accomplice teams up with an old adversary to help them out.
The behind-the-scenes changes manifest mainly in the characters, who seem to be entirely different people from the last film. Previously, Jessie Eisenberg was cock-sure and showy, yet here he is muted and consistently surprised, as if he has never seen a basic magic trick before. The great mind of Mark Ruffalo is instead a moody amateur who would be in no way capable of concocting any kind of plan. Isla Fisher is casually dismissed as having been given a way out, despite being a wanted criminal in the US and Europe, and is never mentioned again as Lizzy Caplan steps into her place with full permission of the Eye. Considering Fisher had to rob a lot of money in three not-very-believable heists to earn her place, it seems a little unfair that Caplan can simply turn up and immediately be part of the crew. She gets a few scripted quips, which is more than Fisher, but there Caplan’s development ends.
There is still a lot of CGI, and the whole plot once again points towards a ridiculous twist reveal. Whilst in the first film the Four Horseman were performers with presence and flair who teased their audience with some level of stage magician imitation, in this follow-up they spend most of their time on stage preaching simplistic exposition that drags on and on.
Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman are back, and Daniel Radcliffe shows up with a beard. He and Caplan are the most enthusiastic cast members by far, and seem to be the only ones enjoying themselves. Everyone else plods along, as if the weights of their contractual obligations are sitting on their shoulders. This film is even less believable than the last, felt longer, and was constantly interrupted by a second Woody Harrelson playing his original character’s identical twin. Whilst his main role was well-acted, the twin was presented as a caricature, and to me felt completely out of place.
Like the first, Now You See Me 2 might be worth seeing to kill some time if you have nothing else to watch and it happens to be on TV, but beyond that it’s a waste of attention.