Now You See Me 2 (aka Now You See Me: The Second Act) review by Mark McPherson - Cinema Paradiso
Watching the sequel to Now You See Me is very much like watching the 2nd presentation of a magic show you've already seen prior. I’ve seen these tricks before and notice minor differences between the two performances. Some of the cleverness still makes me smile, but the repetition drains some of the amazement. It’s just not the same the second time around.
The Horsemen, the magician group that specializes in heists with the public as their audience, have returned from the shadows for another caper. With the new addition of Lizzy Caplan to the ensemble that includes Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco and Mark Ruffalo, their latest target is a mobile phone mogul they intend to humiliate at a press event. With their fast talking, quick disguises and slight of hand, the group successfully infiltrates the events and wows a crowd. But they are soon captured by the evil tech mogul Walter Mabry (Daniel Mabry) - labeled as an antagonist for his distaste of magic. He desires a computer chip in a Chinese data facility and forcefully employs the Horsemen to retrieve it for him.
It’s up to the Horsemen to work together as a team to find a way out of this scenario and the movie never wastes a moment to state how the Horsemen are a team. But they’re only a team in the way everybody talks about them as such. There isn’t a whole lot of chemistry between these magicians that mostly trade insults. It almost appears as though each actor has their own scene, refusing to let the other actors step over them. Lizzy Caplan in particular is trying far too hard to stick out as the strong female of the group that her scenes become excruciating to watch.
A good magician never reveals his secrets, but these magicians can’t wait to divulge all their tricks. They do so during their heists to show off how clever they are in their schemes. The only problem with that is when they spend so much time revealing their secrets that it reached a point where I just didn’t care how any of this was done. They don’t even bother to explain some of their more elaborate outs and tricks as when Jesse Eisenberg falls back into a puddle of water and evaporates. The answer is CGI and I doubt it’d be that impressive if The Horsemen explained how render passes work. And the rest of their tricks involve them disappearing without a trace from certain areas, making them appear less as magicians and more as ninjas.
Despite my distaste for most of the movie, I can’t fault it for being a fun caper. It moves fast enough, the cast is A-list, the locations are beautiful and the magic tricks are showy and clever (the ones explained at least). If you can suspend enough belief, the movie is actually enjoyable. But if you found it difficult to do so with the previous movie, it’s even more of a chore with this movie that has all the same problems. The big plot twist revealed at the end of the picture creates a real stopping point where you’re either forgiving of the picture running out of ideas or infuriated that all of this was leading up to such a ridiculous excuse of a finale. Having seen this twist before from this series, I was more disappointed than anything. The magic just isn’t there when you can see all the strings being pulled.