Movie review: ‘Now You See Me 2’ looks to make summer magic
–Summer is a unique time at the movies. The days are long and hot, the theaters are cool and dark. We have less structured routines so, naturally, we get a plethora of breezy entertainment options at the local theater.
In 2013, “Now You See Me,” waded into those summer waters and drew a crowd. It was a sometimes clever, sometimes fun and always an entertaining little film. It had a good tone, some nice performances and a good enough reveal at the end of the film. It also made money. So what might have been a nice little one off became something else.
Three years later, we get the sequel we never expected. Most of the players are back, they’re up to their old caper ways and they’re trying to fool us once again.
In the latest adventure, it’s been a year and the Horsemen are still in hiding. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg) is bitter because his girl has left and he wants to be in charge and doing things instead of waiting in the wings. Merritt McKinney (Woody Harelson) and Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) have more faith in their leader, Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo). Dylan, meanwhile, is still keeping up the ruse that he’s an FBI Agent looking for the Horsemen, even though some of his colleagues don’t buy it.
From prison, Thaddeus (Morgan Freeman) is crying foul about his arrest and blaming the Horsemen. Meanwhile a new assignment from The Eye sends the Horsemen back into the limelight, which makes them targets.
While they narrowly avoid FBI capture, the three Horsemen and their new addition, Lula (Lizzy Caplan), fall into a trap laid by a new player. Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe) outs the Horsemen, blows Dylan’s cover and brings them all overseas to recruit them to use their skills for his benefit.
The question becomes whether the Horsemen can outsmart Walter and escape.
This sequel has a new writer and director but the same basic premise and glossy sheen. Director Jon M. Chu, who directed a pair of “Step Up” movies and “G.I. Joe: Retaliation,” has a feel for the breezy fun that this movie should be. The magic tricks work, the plot is fine if you don’t think about it too hard and the character development isn’t entirely absent.
The sequel gets a few things right. It makes the most of its returning cast — even adding a fun duel role for Harelson that manages to stay just on the right side of annoying. And Caplan makes for a great addition. She might feel the most comfortable in her role and looks to be having the most fun aside from Radcliffe, who hams it up as the villain.
This movie is about as deep as a puddle, but that works during the summer season. I don’t think it’s quite as good as the first one — and certainly lacks the pop of originality since we’ve seen the formula before — but it manages to be good a summer entertainment.
If you were a fan of the first movie, or you like entertaining movies about heists and/or magic, this is worth checking out.
“Now You See Me 2” has been rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for violence and some language.
Three stars out of four.
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