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‘Now You See Me 2’ Brings More Magic Tricks And Shenanigans To The Table (Movie Review)

now you see me 2 tymbThe core concept behind these Now You See Me films is making heist movies with magicians. That sounds incredibly fun to me and apparently many others, as the first film was a sleeper hit, paving the way for this sequel. Now You See Me 2 takes the ‘bigger is better’ route seen with most sequels and ups the ante for our main characters. The film has some of the same issues from the first, meaning the plot really only works if you don’t think too hard about it, but plenty of positives actually make this film even more enjoyable.

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now you see me 2 9

These films largely revolve around the elaborate magic shows pulled off by the Four Horsemen. The first film had to keep us closed off from them, as they were in on most of what was going on. As a result, we didn’t learn much about these key characters. This film brings back Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson and Dave Franco, with Lizzy Caplan replacing Isla Fisher as a new character and does a much better job of keeping them as the focus of the story. It pays off, as this cast is well utilized.

Story-wise, this sequel’s plot focuses on the Horsemen and FBI Agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) getting caught off guard by Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe) and his plans to work them over in his own game. Various connections are revealed over time, but it will come down to the Horsemen pulling off another impossible heist, as well as finding their own way to out-magic the mastermind of their possible destruction.

For kicks, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman are also back for more, with the dueling personalities used sparingly enough to keep our focus on the main characters and simply enjoy the minor presence of these two veterans. Also, after making what I found to be a solid American film debut in The Green Hornet (one of that film’s few highlights), Jay Chou enters the cast, only to be almost entirely wasted. Sanaa Lathan joins the cast as well, filling the shoes of in-over-her-head FBI agent, but at least she doesn’t have to be embarrassed so the story can show the others succeeding.

now you see me 2 6

So the film has a large cast and director Jon M. Chu does his best to balance it all. Fortunately, it works out. While G.I. Joe: Retaliation and Jem and the Holograms have not proven to be the best outlets for Chu to shine, Now You See Me actually seems more fitting of the talents of the man behind two very entertaining Step Up movies. It is for that reason that I keep supporting Chu getting behind the camera for some lighthearted action and the magician heist movie series certainly fits that category.

There are a few well done sequences involving sleight of hand and the inner workings of these magicians and it plays really well. There is some editing that feels a bit too convoluted during some of the few fight scenes, but the magic action is well-staged. A highlight of the first film involved Franco using cards and tricks to fight his way out of a situation. This film features Ruffalo in a similar situation, while another has all four Horsemen playing off of each other in a very slick way.

What is great about these sorts of sequences is the lack of reliance on completely CG elements to accomplish magic. You can question the believability of certain scenarios, but while the first film had showcase performances that really felt like a computer created them, the illusions we see here are at least grounded in plausibility. It also doesn’t hurt that everyone seems to be having fun.

now you see me 2 7

Much like the Ocean’s films, which relied heavily on cast chemistry, Now You See Me trades plot convenience in for a likable group of characters. As I said, we get more from the Horseman this time around and they are a lot of fun. Each brings what you would expect from the actors involved, with new addition Caplan being allowed to have just as much fun as the boys. Radcliffe also gets to play around in a way that I only wish was explored more, given his bravado in early scenes. Ruffalo is fine as well, though he has to balance his natural charisma with taking on most of the film’s emotional weight.

Now You See Me 2 does not ask a whole lot from the audience, which is a good thing in a way. It is content with throwing a lot of story at the audience and making it fun and easy to comprehend. The joy should mainly come from the cast and the illusion-based heist and action sequences. Like the first film, as long as too much thought isn’t applied to the logic, there is a good time to be had. Thankfully, this sequel actually makes that good time even more apparent.

now you see me 2 poster 2

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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Video Game Player, Comic Book Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

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