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Dan's Review: Little magic in "Now You See Me 2"

Jun 11, 2016 08:39PM ● Published by Dan Metcalf

Woody Harrelson, Lizzy Caplan, Jesse Eisenberg, and Dave Franco in Now You See Me 2 - © 2016 – Lionsgate.

Now You See Me 2 (Summit Entertainment)

Rated PG-13 for violence and some language.

Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, Daniel Radcliffe, Lizzy Caplan, Jay Chou, Sanaa Lathan, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, David Warshofsky, Tsai Chin, William Henderson, Richard Laing, Henry Lloyd-Hughes.

Written by Ed Solomon and Peter Chiarelli, based on characters by Boaz Yakin and Edward Ricourt.

Directed by Jon M. Chu.

GRADE: B-

REVIEW:

Some movie sequels seem like a natural progression, with plenty of room for the main characters to grow and tie up a few loose ends. Most sequels are borne of studio greed, as corporate execs have a natural proclivity toward capitalizing on a known brand. Now You See Me 2, the sequel to 2013’s Now You See Me is a movie that seems to have forgotten its source material, taking its characters into unfamiliar territory, and giving its main characters little room to grow.

It’s the continuing story of “The Horsemen,” a group of magicians who robbed from evil rich folks to give back to the poor by using magic tricks during their Vegas-style shows. The core members of the Horsemen are Danny Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson) and Jack Wilder (Dave Franco). Since Isla Fisher was busy bearing her third child, she was unable to reprise her role as Henley Reeves, requiring the addition of Lizzy Caplan as Lula, who rounds out the quartet. Lula is recruited by the group’s hidden mastermind Dylan (Mark Ruffalo), who has helped the gang stay in hiding while pretending to keep tabs on them through his role as an FBI agent. When the group is recruited to expose the evil plans of tech magnate Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe) who wants to launch a new computer-spying program that will intrude on the privacy of the entire world, they jump at the chance, only to find themselves tricked into helping him. The Horsemen are taunted and dragged into the scheme by Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman), a man they framed and had locked up in prison during the first film (it seems he has a great Internet connection and all the tech he wants in prison, but whatever). Their new adventures take the Horsemen all the way to China and London, where they have to perform one last extraordinary public stunt in order to clear their names for good. They also discover the truth behind the secret magician society known as “The Eye.”

Now You See Me 2 has one thing going for it: excellent cast chemistry, led by Eisenberg and talented newcomer Lizzy Caplan. The rest of the film offers few new surprises, which is troubling for a movie about magic. That’s problematic for a sequel, which is supposed to take the characters to new development and unfamiliar territory. Also unfortunate is the switch in main female characters, since the exclusion of Isla Fisher’s character is handled poorly (“she quit,” is the only reference).

There are a few plot twists you may not have seen coming and some clever scenes in which the magicians pull off their capers, but Now You See Me 2 is all smoke and mirrors.


Now You See Me 2 Trailer

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