FILM REVIEW: Now You See Me 2FILM REVIEW: Now You See Me 2
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FILM REVIEW: Now You See Me 2

Stars: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Lizzy Caplan, Dave Franco, Daniel Radcliffe, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine.

 

Who doesn’t love a good magic trick? As kids most of us are wide eyed with astonishment when a magician we see at a party or event pulls a rabbit out of a hat, saws his glamorous assistant in half or blows our minds with card tricks. I know I was and as an adult I was even more stunned and impressed by the captivating Darcy Oake. Magic is fun and the enigma of trying to piece together the puzzle of how it’s done and the mystery of not knowing the secret is what makes it well, so magical.

That’s exactly what Now You See Me 2 is. A big, happy dazzling dose of light-hearted fun. It’s most definitely not an Oscar winner or even a contender but it is a great helping of escapism and amusement.

Without giving too much away- this film is about tricks and illusions after all- the sequel is set one year after the Four Horseman- a quartet of talented and quick-thinking performers- has outwitted the FBI and won the public over with their Robin Hood-esque masquerades. Now, after waiting restlessly in hiding for instructions from The Eye, the ancient and covert order of magicians they now work for and having been joined by new member, elusive illusionist Lula May (Lizzy Caplan), the Horsemen have a new mission: dupe and expose tech businessmen Owen Case (Ben Lamb), whose data mining software steels information on its users for Case to exploit.

Things, as you can expect, don’t go according to plan and the Horsemen are kidnapped in their bid to expose Case, by none other than Case’s former business partner and now rival (Daniel Radcliffe), who’s actually acting on behalf of someone else. With villains hiding behind villains, people’s hidden motives and agendas and others always being one step ahead, the plot is just as twisty and turny, topsy and turvy roller coaster as the first one is, if not more so.

While the pace was swift and slick, the crowds cheering, spotlights shining and special effects adding to the grandeur of their spellbinding- slightly far-fetched stunts, the characters could’ve done with being fleshed out a bit more…and by a bit I mean a lot more. Star studded with a high calibre of actors though the film was, the script didn’t allow the audience to get their teeth into the characters and feel anything towards many of them, accept perhaps FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo), the Horsemen’s handler, who battles with the residue childhood grief of his father’s death.

I know this movie was never destined or intended to be a drama but the reasons why Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg) craves the leadership position within the Horsemen’s unit and why he’s such a fountain of ego and control freak-ness could have done with being explored more, as could the random off-hand romance that needed more developing between Lula and Jack (Dave Franco). I would also have liked to have seen more time dedicated to divulging the story behind hypnotist Merritt and his devious and cunning twin (also an accomplished hypnotist) Chase. That way, even if viewers get a little dubious about the extravagant tricks our four favourite illusionists pull off they could still buy into the characters.

That being said, though Daniel Radcliffe’s Walter Mabry was more of a manchild villain you’d mock than a convincing threat, we do find out he is acting on behalf of someone else so the fact that he’s not the mastermind behind the operation makes him a little more plausible. Lizzy Caplan had big, glitzy heels to fill when she replaced Isla Fisher’s character and fourth horsemen member, Henley, but she added an edgy sass to the role with a streak of sexiness and seductive magical flair, which meant she met the tall order.

Ruffalo, Freeman and Caine are always a delight to watch and the film’s script is sprinkled with witty one-liners that work. The highlight had to be a scene in which the Four Horsemen are in the same room been searched after being suspected of theft having to outsmart their searchers by passing the item they’ve stolen between themselves. The sequence that ensues is so tight, stylish and speedy that it’s bewitching so hats off to the choreographer.

For fun, magic and adventure, full of unpredictable twists and turns, this sequel- and I don’t say this about many sequels- is a one worth watching.