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Now You See Me 2 – Too Much Pretension, Too Little Movie Magic

By: Daniel Chadwick-Shubat

Movies are magical in more ways than one. They create fantastical worlds that only exist in the minds of people and have brought to life some of the most beloved fictional characters in the world. Now You See Me 2 is a movie about magic but sadly it creates little movie magic. Like a lot of sequels its bogged down in the audience having to know what happened in the previous movie and is at times a little too smart for its own good.

The Four Horsemen (Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, Lizzy Caplan) return for a second mind-bending adventure, elevating the limits of stage illusion to new heights and taking them 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 (Daniel Radcliffe), a tech prodigy who threatens 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.

The addition of Daniel Radcliffe to the sequel was a huge positive as it’s been a while since Radcliffe has gotten to do anything comedic. I’ve really enjoyed his works as of late including the likes of Horns and The Woman in Black but here he really got to run with his “villainous” role and ended up being one of the most enjoyable characters of the movie. You never hated him and maybe that was the point.

But the return of many of the originals cast members meant that this was a very recognizable cast and that is what mainly worked against the sequel. With the likes of Eisenberg, Ruffalo, Harrelson, Freeman, Radcliffe and Caine all having to be fit in and serve the plot it ended up making the movie way too convoluted to really dig into.

It also meant the likes of Caplan and Franco (who are two fantastic young actors) were left on the wayside a bit not allowing the two to gel at all and throwing in some dumb out of nowhere romantic side-plot that just felt forced.

Don’t get me wrong it was still enjoyable, with the magic looking as cool as ever and the comedic banter between the Horsemen still going strong. And as someone who can’t help but love Mark Ruffalo it was great to see him have an elevated role in the sequel and see some of his character’s backstory. But everything that didn’t work with the original didn’t work here and thanks to the overcrowded cast the movie felt even more convoluted than the first one.

If the producers do decide to make a third installment (as the ending suggests) then they have got to make it a more concentrated story and give more screen time to the horses rather than all the secondary characters around them. The movie was still a fun time in the theater and the comedic thriller aspect really worked for the movie, especially in the most memorable scene involving a security guard and a banana. All it needs is a little more movie magic and a little less pretension and it’ll be on the right track.

 Rating: 7/10

Check out my site Get Reel Movies for all things movie related including my podcast!

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