After fleeing from a stage show, the illusionists Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson), Jack Wilder (Dave Franco), and Lula (Lizzy Caplan) known as the Four Horsemen find themselves in more trouble in Macau, China. Devious tech wizard Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe) forces the infamous magicians to steal a powerful chip that can control all of the world’s computers.
If you would like to read a review of my friend Dan from getreelmovies.com of Now You See Me 2 from earlier, click here. If you would like to read my review of the original Now You See Me, click here. I was a fan of the first Now You See Me as I am a fan of magic films, despite there not being much of them, and of magic in general. The first film was cool and the magic looked good for the most part but I found the story a little convoluted. I was hoping that with another film in the series (and a third film in the future), these things would improve.
The benefit of this film is that since there was already a film before it, it doesn’t have to waste time since the team has already been put together with the film picking up not too long after the first. While the previous film ended with some questions, this one tries to answer some early on while also asking new questions. It just felt like the path was a little clearer here. The only real drawback to this is that those who haven’t seen the previous film might be lost at first.
Those wondering about the absence of Isla Fisher’s Henley Reeves, she left the group over the year the Four Horsemen spent in hiding after the events of the previous film. With unrest forming within the group as they are tired of being in hiding, they finally get the opportunity to perform again but things quickly don’t go as planned after they find themselves in China. While there, tech wizard Walter Mabry (Radcliffe) enlists them to steal a powerful chip with the power to control all of the world’s computers. Sure, we never get an idea of how powerful this chip really is but that’s besides the point.
Radcliffe’s Mabry was a great addition here as a villain but he still felt a little underused here as the film definitely could have gone further with him. He seemed to always just be lurking most of the time so if we had more of a sense of how much of a bad guy he was, what the Horsemen did would have more impact. The topic of human surveillance obviously came up here because of this but there was much more going on here. The team has to come together once again, also obviously because of the new team member in Lula, but after a year in hiding, they have to figure out how to do it again. Without giving anything away, there is something else but it has a little to do with the previous film.
Just like in the previous film, you kind of have to suspend belief when it comes to all the magic tricks. Also like the previous film, some of the tricks defy human belief (you have to remember that this is a film) and the fact that a lot of people fall for them and/or are oblivious to them happening defy belief and some might have a problem doing this but this film works the best when this happens. Believability aside, the tricks themselves are still well done with the scene involving everyone and a card being thrown around, which everyone has probably seen part of in the trailers, standing out.
Dan thought the film was convoluted and too smart for its own good. While he is right about the film being a little too smart (and the first one was as well), the film is nowhere near convoluted. The first film was more convoluted. While Franco and Fisher were a little marginalized in the first film because of Eisenberg’s Atlas almost dominating scenes, this wasn’t really the case here with he and now Caplan playing more of a role this time around. The film definitely could have gone without their forced relationship but Wilder asserted himself more and Caplan had some nice quips while trying to fit in with the group. The film’s secondary characters were used well enough here with the exception of Morgan Freeman’s Thaddeus Bradley. He was the best part of the first film and had a strong chance to repeat that here. Despite that, he was still great here.
The performances all around were good here and a little more even than the previous film with Eisenberg not dominating the scenes which allowed for a little more personality amongst the other Horsemen. Their chemistry, even with a new member, still was the best part here with the great dialogue remaining. They were still very fun to watch together. Ruffalo was better here in an elevated role, with more action and interaction with the Horsemen. He also had great chemistry with them. A low point, for sure, has to be a twin to Harrelson’s McKinney being introduced for no reason. Another has to be the ending which was a little too convenient.
Overall, while I still liked it better than Dan, there were still problems here new and old but there still is some fun to be had, if you condition yourselves properly