Now You See Me 2

A scene in Now You See Me 2 (NuMetro)
A scene in Now You See Me 2 (NuMetro)

What it's about:

The Four Horsemen return for a second mind-bending adventure, elevating the limits of stage illusion to new heights and taking the team around the globe. One year after outwitting the FBI and winning the public’s adulation with their Robin Hood-style magic spectacles, the illusionists resurface for a comeback performance in hopes of exposing the unethical practices of a tech magnate. The man behind their vanishing act is none other than Walter Mabry, a tech prodigy who blackmails the Horsemen into pulling off their most impossible heist yet. Their only hope is to perform one last unprecedented stunt to clear their names and reveal the mastermind behind it all.

What we thought:

Having spent some of my childhood obsessed with magic tricks and illusions (I even had my own black and white wand), I find it hard to be objective about a movie that brings to life all my childhood fantasies of epic magic shows, especially when my hero David Copperfield was an advisor on the film. As I try to see past this reverential gaze, the sequel to Now You See Me appears to be a unique concept at odds with its own predictable plot, yet doesn’t fail to entertain.

A year after their renowned hoodwink of the FBI, the Horsemen reappear with a new addition (Lizzy Caplan) to their magic act, set on ousting a dubious tech mogul. Unfortunately, their show gets highjacked by a mysterious computer wiz (Daniel Radcliffe) who forces them into stealing a valuable electronic key. But as expected, nothing is as it seems.

When the franchise first came onto the scene in 2013, it stood out as something different, and the box office viewed the newcomer favourably. Three years later, will it be able to pull off the same trick? (Yes, yes, terrible pun.) The problem with many movies that revolve around magic shows and tricks, is that you can walk into the cinema expecting the trick, taking note of everything that happens with a close sceptic eye. This makes it hard to pull one over a suspecting audience, and The Second Act tries to cover this by throwing multiple plot twists at you, hoping at least one of them makes you go ‘mind blown’. Unfortunately, none hits their mark and fails to avoid a predictable outcome.

The main element in favour of this film is the fact that the producers managed to almost convince the entire previous cast to get on-board for the sequel, with the notable exception of Isla Fischer who had a pregnant belly she couldn’t make disappear. Her replacement however made up for that hole, as Caplan is an absolute pleasure that brings a suave geekiness to the atmosphere of the movie that already borders on the ridiculous. Everyone else is pretty much the same as before, barring a new power struggle between Jesse Eisenberg and Mark Ruffalo, but this doesn’t amount to much in the end.

And then there’s Radcliffe, an actor that has made some strange role choices recently, but still manages to win over his fans. Like my lack of objectivity towards films about magic shows, I find it doubly hard to be negative about The Boy Who Stole Hearts, even when he plays a ruthless villain. He’s just too adorable to hate.

As for the actual magic shows and special effects, the audience is treated to a wondrous show of lights, illusion, card tricks and unimaginable feats. The style of magic definitely has a Copperfield-esque feel to it, although movie magic kind of takes away the astonishment you would have felt if you watched a live magic show. Hollywood can do many things, but recreating that feeling of amazement is unfortunately not one of them.

If you liked the first one and can keep yourself from overthinking the plot predictability, Now You See Me: The Second Act will definitely provide an entertaining night at the movies, but fails to recapture that special touch that made the first one such a success. 

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