Now You See Me 2 (2016)

Now You See Me 2 [2016]: The Four Horseman have returned after almost two years of hiding to give the audience their ‘Second Act’ in this magic-cum-heist-cum-thriller mash-up of a movie. Most of the original cast are back, plus some familiar faces to once again- steal something that doesn’t belong to them whilst using some magic to further the process. Sounds logical? Not quite.   

“Um, what?!” It is rare nowadays for a film to focus on the use of magic or illusions. Christopher Nolan nailed The Prestige by revolving the narrative around pursuing new tricks. Now You See Me 2 (disgustingly long to say) however, feels like a main course of action with a side order of magic feebly juggling obscure and sometimes impossible feats of illusions. There is this one scene (no spoilers, promise) where the Horsemen maneuver a playing card between each other to avoid detection from security. It flips, tilts and glides through the air without any authority batting an eye let alone CCTV cameras, all whilst I am perplexed about how the hell they are so talented and coordinated to achieve this. Skilled magicians or random garbage? Decide for yourself.

Ladies and Gentlemen; The New Horsemen. Indeed the gang has reappeared, minus Henley, as Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, and Dave Franco welcome newcomer Lula (Lizzy Caplan) into the magical world of the Horsemen. And she is a quipping nightmare. She carelessly throws around cringing comebacks, unfunny comments and ridiculous responses that feel so scripted and unrealistic it actually breaks the immersion reminding you this is a movie. On the other hand, Daniel Radcliffe’s Walter is generally good - switching between a convincing villain and a crazy bastard with the flip of a card. It was also refreshing to see returning character Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) tackle conflicts of police business versus Horsemen shenanigans. Supporting actors Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine effortlessly deliver their performances often better than leading roles.

Now You Don’t. What made the first movie so great was its ability to combine magic with action pretty much flawlessly. Unfortunately, this feels clumsy and confusing at times. Plus there is much less of it. I know that too much of a good thing is bad but too little lacks engagement and, most importantly, entertainment. Some more magic and less talking would have been highly appreciated by everyone.

Disappearing Act. As much as I was frustrated by this film, it was extremely satisfying at many points. Seeing all of the Horsemen acting as ‘A Single Organism’ was very rewarding similar to the conclusion. Watching them outsmart the opposition was amusing at times plus the rewind process of the tricks was very intelligent so kudos to the minds behind that. We are also treated to an open ending which was favorably accepted by the audience and creates leeway for another installment.

A satisfying sequel but leaves the audience hungry for more magic.