If you’re among those that disliked the first film, you likely won’t get much more out of Now You See Me 2; but if you liked the original, this film will most certainly entertain you. While the magic tricks are probably impossible, despite attempts to explain how the tricks are done, they’re definitely fun. In fact the magic tricks and heisting are when the film is at its best, even if the twists and turns are easier to spot this time around.
The suspense of the magic heists and the stakes of the film certainly feel present, as our Four Horsemen, Jack (Dave Franco), Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), Merritt (Woody Harreelson), and newcomer Lula (Lizzy Caplan) replacing Isla Fisher’s character, are outsmarted by Walter (Daniel Radcliffe) and stuck in China without the guidance of their leader Dylan (Mark Ruffalo). While the stakes are felt at the beginning of the film, during the third act we are always led to believe the Four Horseman are one step ahead, whether they are or not, which ends up downplaying the tension of the film. Furthermore, the plot is obvious, so the audience is able to predict various twist and turns, unlike the previous film which subverted expectations. Yet just the film’s twists are predictable, doesn’t mean the ride is not an enjoyable one. The sleight of hand tricks are definitely the where the film is the strongest. Watching a card move from person to person, or costume changes happen in the blink of the eye is truly engrossing; if only some of the other tricks could match the sleight of hand, the film would be nothing short of spectacular. Sadly, the other magic acts in the film aren’t as engrossing as the first film’s because they’re obvious.
Mark Ruffalo’s character carries central plot throughout the film, which is good considering he’s one of the film’s best actors along Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine. While Ruffalo’s arc is quite slow during the first half of the film, making audiences yearn for the magic, it pays off quite well as the film moves on. But the FBI trying to chase down the Horsemen, while fun in the first film, is pretty boring this time around. We never want them to succeed in capturing the Horsemen, nor do they ever pose an actual threat to the group. The FBI act as an unnecessary third party to the events in the film, which would be better off and a bit more concise without them cutting down the film’s 129 minute run-time.
The cinematography in this film is quite amazing , with visual tricks, cues, and symmetry that is very appealing to the eye and serves the story well by cluing in the keen viewer. When the action is choppy and hard to figure out what’s happening, it’s not because the directing is bad, the movie is simply trying to misdirect you, and camera angles serve to disguise tricks which would be made obvious from other perspectives.
Overall, while I didn’t enjoy Now You See Me 2 as much as its predecessor, I still greatly enjoyed my experience with the film. The magic tricks were a delight to watch, and the character moments brought a nice comedic touch at times, and a fair amount of heart during others. While more predictable than the first, this film is certainly a serviceable sequel.