The Four Horsemen return at more of a trot than a gallop. The sequel to “Now You See Me” tries to capture the magic but fails to capture the thrills of the first film. Most of the cast returns. Noticeably, Isla Fisher, who played Henley, is gone. Replacing her is Lizzy Caplan as Lula—handpicked by Mark Ruffalo’s Dylan Rhodes. The film starts with a young Dylan watching his father perform his final trick. The tragedy is a stark contrast to the previous “Now You See Me.” The emotionally heavy introduction feels out of place and probably should have been left as subtext, like in the first film.
Return to present day, “Now You See Me 2” shows the idle existence of Jack Wilder (Dave Franco), Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg) and Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson). They have been forced into a year of hiding by underground magic organization The Eye. The three men are itching to get out in front of an audience once more but none more so than Atlas.
He resents Dylan’s leadership and seeks to take over the Horsemen as ringleader. The setup is rather “blah” and reminiscent of one too many teen-angst films. Meanwhile, Morgan Freeman reprises his role as the magic buster Thaddeus Bradley. And he has a bone to pick. He still maintains that he was framed.
The troop, now with Lula, get their first gig at last. Once more they are using illusion to bring down a baddie—one who is able to get people’s private information. There’s a back and forth throughout the entire film between privacy and the public space. The topic is fascinating, but ill-handled in by writers Ed Soloman and Pete Chiarelli.
The new heist to overthrow the baddie fails and the Horsemen find themselves part of a magic trick. They end up in China and come to meet the real villain. A delightfully narcissistic Daniel Radcliffe as Walter. (Evil Harry Potter?) Walter intends to use the Horsemen to do some stealing for him.
More heists, more angst, all culminating in a citywide trick on New Year’s Eve in London. The problem with “Now You See Me 2” is there is so much chatter. The characters spend more time talking than performing magic, which is what we’re here to see. While not an outright awful film, it could have had tighter character arcs and sharper dialogue. It tried to grasp at relevant topics such as privacy but that ended up bogging the action down.
The film fails to capture the thrills of its predecessor, but if anything redeems it, it’s Daniel Radcliffe.
- Kaely Monahan is an entertainment reporter and creator of the film review podcast Popcorn Fan Film Reviews.