Movie Review: Now You See Me 2

The preceding installment to this sequel set it up either to succeed or fail. The implication of the big reveal at the end of 2013’s Now You See Me is that the sequel either has to top it in shock value or at the very least, match it. It therefore will not be a stretch to say that anybody going to see the sequel would have such expectation at the back of their mind.

Now You See Me 2 opened with a prologue set in 1984 which was no more than a visual representation of a revelation viewers are already in the know of from the first movie. This, perhaps, should have been the giveaway that this sequel has no real shock in store for viewers.

As with the first movie, the story line in the sequel straps the viewer in the seat of a rollercoaster ride and jets off on a convoluted but mildly hair-raising familiar twists and turns and a few bumps leaving the same generous spray of celebratory card-trick confetti in its wake.

We go through the same elaborate performance sequences that see our modern day illusionist Robin Hoods traverse a performance stage that spans New York, Macau and London for the big finale on New Year’s eve.

Like your typical magic act, they turn tricks that are as convoluted as they are familiar leaving you quite entertained but in the end you ask; so, what else is new?

But kudos has to be given for the elaborately choreographed sequence that saw the 4 horsemen steal a computer chip from an ultra-secure secret facility in Macau. As implausible as it was even for world-famous illusionists like the 4 horsemen to pull off, the sequence was a beautiful tapestry of choreography and editing that pays homage to Director, Jon Chu’s proficiency no doubt honed whilst directing 2 installments in the Step Up franchise.

Performance-wise; Jesse Eisenberg was in his element as a brooding nerd, a shtick best suited for this sequel than the disaster that was his Lex Luthor in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Woody Harrelson got to play a dual role as his character’s twin. For me, the only difference between both was that we got to see what bald Woody would look like with hair. A piece of unsolicited advice Mr. Harrelson; stay bald.

Daniel Radcliffe’s bad guy made as much impact as beards would on Harry Potter. Radcliffe suffers from the curse of playing a beloved character in a popular franchise movie; for the most part, such actors are either unable to break out from the mould of such characters in other movies or their characters in other movies are unfavourably compared to the character in the movie they are best known for. In Now You See Me 2, Radcliffe was unimpressive as a villain and came across as a chirpy Hobbit in suit.

Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Mark Ruffalo reprised their previous roles to no impressive note leaving only newcomer Lizzy Caplan to turn in the only impressive performance in the sequel. She proved she could throw down with the boys when needed to and gave you something to smile or laugh about in most of her scenes.

As with Common in the first movie, Sanaa Lathan’s role in this sequel was as relevant or required as the obligatory multiple shuffles by a magician when turning a trick with a deck of cards.

A movie premised on magic acts by illusionists inevitably suffers from the curse of magic acts; at first viewing, it blows your mind. The next time, while still impressive, it doesn’t quite achieve the magic of the first time. If as a magician, your shtick is pulling a rabbit out of your hat, eventually, that routine gets boring and the only way you can impress your audience is pull your hat out a rabbit.

To paraphrase a line from the sequel which itself paraphrased a popular slogan inspired by the magic of Vegas; whatever happened in Now You See Me happened in Now You See Me 2.