In an era of remakes, reboots, sequels, trilogies and so on, it’s hard to expect good things when more times than not, the big bucks matter more than good art. “Now You See Me 2” proves otherwise, and will have audiences saying, “Wow, the second one was actually better,” however unneeded it was. The sequel brings the mystique of the story back to life, albeit with less novelty, and with fresh characters as well as a more in-depth story line – however in-depth a film like this goes. The intrigue, mystery, magic, fun one-liners and actors make the film one worth seeing.
The Four Horsemen, that is the four Robin Hood-like magicians, return one year after bringing down the rich, escaping the FBI and putting Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman) in prison to avenge the death of Dylan Rhodes’ (Mark Ruffalo) father. The Horsemen, J. Daniel (Jesse Eisenberg), Jack (Dave Franco), Merritt (Woody Harrelson) and the new addition to the team, Lula (Lizzy Caplan), have been training under the instruction of The Eye (whoever that is) while everything that was wrapped up in the first film comes undone.
The writers thought well to mention the absence of Isla Fisher’s character, giving her due credit and using it for background on Eisenberg’s character. Unknowing of The Eye’s ultimate goal, the group sets out to expose the tech tycoon and his unethical practices. In the midst of it all, Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe), Arthur Tressler’s (Michael Caine) son, uses his magic tricks (aka threats) to coerce them into pulling off a seemingly impossible heist where twists, action and teamwork take place along the way.
The sequel is pure entertainment. The creativity and the action captivate audiences while the character interactions give its simplicity some gravity. Impressive moments include the fight scene with Ruffalo using his magic tricks to fend off Radcliffe’s men, Eisenberg making it rain and then some, the humorous chopping off of body parts from Caplan and the artsy scene where they play hide the card. The characters shine through these moments and are just plain enjoyable to watch.
Ruffalo is always that actor who gives character to his characters. The writers show his backstory and build on what had already been covered in the first film. Harrelson comically plays a double role as Merritt’s conniving brother, and milks his silliness for all it’s worth. Radcliffe shows his acting range as the powerful and evil British man (the usual) and Caine and Freeman are brilliant as usual, no further comment required. The highlight is definitely Caplan, who steals the show with her portrayal. Her humorous one-liners regarding female roles and good-natured energy throughout the film impress and add a spark to the film that may have died if it had kept Eisenberg in the limelight. A little banter never hurt anyone, but the romance between Caplan and Franco seemed vague and misplaced, only used so that the important “boy gets girl,” or in this case, “girl gets boy,” happens, with a kiss at the end and everything.
“Now You See Me 2” definitely banks on its mystery, illusions and humor as well as on the strength of its actors. The combination of these elements, coupled with relationship growth (to a limited extent), character interaction and the component of wonder bring audiences to experience this film as a fun-for-all, cinematic rendezvous. The sequel attempts to fix the anti-climactic ending of the first only to go back to its cryptic, nonsensical finale. Maybe it’s an open-ended approach that will be explained in a future sequel. After all, who doesn’t love a little mystery?
The film definitely banks on its mystery, illusions and humor as well as on the strength of its actors. The combination of these elements, coupled with character interaction and the component of wonder bring audiences to experience this film as a fun-for-all, cinematic rendezvous.