Now You See Me 2 is an action adventure sequel following (mostly) the band of magicians known as The Horsemen from the first film who perform a series of stunts and tricks in order to further their Robin Hood motivated agenda of exposing the corrupt. In the second film of the series, the team has been in isolation for a year, a status that is starting to grate on these personalities who live for the limelight. Particularly frustrated is J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), who resents the detached leadership of Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) and brashly accepts a shady heist job. The task is to steal a computer chip with ridiculous powers and abilities from an impenetrable facility at the behest of Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe) a young tech genius who threatens death lest The Horsemen fail.
What works in Now You See Me 2 is the fun and energy, which take a variety of forms. The heist sequences are particularly engaging and well-choreographed. For example, the computer chip they steal just, as luck would have it, is the size and shape of a standard playing card. After obtaining said object, The Horsemen play a type of shell game with the chip tossing to each other across the room as they are systematically searched by guards after arousing suspicion. The sequence is clever and even bit suspenseful.
Newcomer Lizzy Caplan steps in the role essentially held by Isla Fisher in the first film, although playing a new character named Lula. Lula is a true delight—she is brimming with positivity, optimism and quirkiness that one can’t help but enjoy. Nearly all of Caplan’s gags and one-liners work mostly due to the dedication she puts into her role. Too often the other Horsemen are brooding and fatalistic, so she offers a nice counterbalance to the team.
While Now You See Me 2 is an entertaining thrill ride, when the whole affair slows down, its weaknesses become glaring. To start, the plot holes are abundant and massive. Too often after a sequence, audiences will be left scratching their heads and the multitude of questions may outweigh the fun. The ending is particularly absurd, as Now You See Me 2 relies far too much on convenience.
Furthermore, the majority of the talent in Now You See Me 2 is wasted. Eisenberg plays condescendingly intelligent, again, and while the actor excels with this type of character alignment, it’s a trick audience members have seen in nearly every one of his movies. Ruffalo is resigned to a fatherly role with three statuses: proud, disappointed, or worried. While Ruffalo does get one of the more engaging action sequences—a fight using magic as a physical defense, the execution is a just a new version of the Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) encounter in the previous film. Finally, Radcliffe tries to skirt the line between amusing and psychopathic which is a dance that typically never goes well, no matter how strong the talent.
Now You See Me 2 tries to engage in world-building by expanding the universe these magicians live in, but despite the entertaining moments, the sinew holding the so-called plot together is so weak that it might not distract audiences enough.
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