For its next trick, this sequel about a group of underground magicians will make logic and cohesion disappear into thin air. Now they’re back with more “magic” and tomfoolery in Now You See Me 2. The sequel shifts Mark Ruffalo’s character, Federal Bureau of Investigation double-agent Dylan Rhodes, to center stage, but this remains an ensemble property, featuring Jesse Eisenberg as self-styled ringleader J. Daniel Atlas, Woody Harrelson as hypnotist Merritt McKinney (and, this time, his twin brother!), Dave Franco as slight-of-hand whiz Jack Wilder and, filling a void left by Isla Fisher, Lizzy Caplan as sassy illusionist Lula. They are joined by a new Horseman, Lula (Lizzy Caplan), a happy-go-lucky novice magician.
Also back is Mark Ruffalo as Federal Bureau of Investigation agent-mole Dylan, motivated by the fact that his dad died in a botched Houdini escape attempt.
It’s anyone’s guess what these trickster rabble rousers have been doing with themselves for the past few years, other than flicking around cards at warp speed and perhaps streaming David Copperfield videos.
This one involves Walter Mabry (a seriously bearded Daniel Radcliffe), a duplicitous tech entrepreneur and magic fan who orchestrates the elaborate abduction of the Horsemen.
There’s a lot of fun to be had with an absurd premise like this. The first is truncated and the second is excruciatingly unbelievable in terms of what it delivers. Now You See Me 2 is average at best, but by virtue of its competition may be one of the better things in theaters right now. The mood is looser, the humor sometimes hits, and the tricks are quick and snazzy. Much like the first film, however, numerous tricks seem to be based on CGI effects rather than real misdirection or sleight-of-hand on the parts of the actors/actresses. But the cast is really where the compliments end with this thing. Caplan is a welcome source of humor as the smug yet excitable Lula.
This time out, a young, high-tech entrepreneur (Daniel Radcliffe) has enticed all the magicians to come out of hiding for another high-profile scam-aganza. There’s also a bounciness to the lighting in these settings, which cinematographer Peter Deming takes full advantage of. Joe – scarcely bothers to try, with characters performing numerous sleight-of-hand gags simply as the script demands it. Harrelson doubles himself, also playing a goof-off twin brother who seems at least partially inspired by Matthew McConaughey, his co-star on “True Detective”. Here is a preview of what you will find. There’s too much here, and all of it is convoluted. The film essentially points at a curtain and says there is a dog behind it, only to drop the curtain and have it be a cat, but expects you to wonder how it isn’t a dog.
Now You See Me 2 hits USA cinemas on 10 June and United Kingdom theatres on 4 July (16). There’s a lot of Oscar power in the cast – 17 nominations and three wins – but the performers in “Now You See Me 2” are just saying their dialogue and having fun. By the time it is all over, the answers you receive will not even compare to the questions you will still have.