“Now You See Me 2” is a flashy film with plenty of star power; but if you think there’s a special trick up its sleeve, you’re only fooling yourself.
In the vein of other movies that trade on magic and illusion, the story makes many switchbacks, so it’s difficult to summarize the plot without giving the secret away. It’s also hard because it’s not clear exactly what happened — and not in a good way.
Like its predecessor, “Now You See Me 2” relies on twists and turns to fool the audience as its characters use magic to get the job done. However, there are so many switches on top of switches that viewers can’t keep them straight. When the big reveal happens at the end, the audience is left sitting in stupefaction instead of standing in applause.
Like all magic tricks, it starts with the set-up. The Horsemen is a group of magicians that includes Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), McKinney (Woody Harrelson), Jack (Dave Franco), the newly recruited Lula (Lizzy Caplan) and leader Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo). They are in hiding after their exploits in the first movie — you should brush up on the original if it’s been awhile since you’ve seen it — when tech giant Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe) seeks their help stealing some technology. Also with a few cards up his sleeve is Thaddeus (Morgan Freeman), who is not happy about being put in jail and vows revenge.
While the plot is too complicated and the movie goes on too long, the film isn’t lacking in razzle-dazzle. The characters’ card tricks, costume changes, disappearances, hypnoses and escapes all mesmerize the audience the way magic should.
The film makes good use of fast-cut editing and flashbacks to show how the team pulls off its tricks, quickly and smoothly guide the audience through the story — even if the why of it is still unclear. But reliance on cinematic tools also blurs the line on what’s magic and what’s not, further stretching audience credulity.
In the end, all the bright lights, spectacle and showmanship can’t disguise a disappointing finale. “Now You See Me 2” is a movie about magic, but it’s also the one thing it lacks. This sequel is a repeat of tricks that add nothing to the original film.
Should you see the latest installment of “Now You See Me”? You probably already have.