June 13, 2016
The original "Now You See Me" was a sleeper hit of 2013. I rated it one of the top 20 films that I had seen that year. It began with an incredibly staged heist, and brought us along a puzzling roller coaster ride of a film that kept us wondering to the very end. Overall, it was, in my own words, "a very energetic, intelligent and most importantly, entertaining film". (My review was posted HERE.)
Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), McKinney (Woody Harrelson) and Wilder (Dave Franco) were in hiding after their major caper from the first film, that led to exposure of the insurance fraud of Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine) and the incarceration of double-crossing magician Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman).
FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) reassembled the team, introducing Lula May (Lizzy Caplan) as the fourth Horseman.The mission was to expose tech businessman Owen Case (Ben Lamb) and his plan to use his new product to invade consumer privacy. However, their plans go haywire and the tables were turned on the Horsemen. From their getaway, the four mysteriously find themselves in Macau as the prisoners of eccentric millionaire, Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe), who wants Case's vile technology for himself.
Like the first film, this sequel relies on the magnetic charm of the Horsemen and their showmanship. Eisenberg, Franco and Harrelson (x2 in this sequel) all pour on the charisma to make this magical gem sparkle again. It was not too easy at first to accept Lizzy Caplan instead of Isla Fisher as the lone female member. Caplan does grow on you eventually in her awkwardly quirky way. The role of Rhodes takes on a different dimension this time because of the revelation at the end of the first film; and Ruffalo does the drama justice.
Radcliffe was a rather weird fit in all this ensemble, feeling he was miscast as the bad guy. Of course, senior stars Caine and Freeman can do no wrong in anything they do. It was very good to see Chinese actress Tsai Chin (best known to us for her role in "The Joy Luck Club") in an important role. However, as her son, Taiwanese superstar Jay Chou was sadly underused in a very minor role.
Even if they try to explain the magic tricks they show here, everything was just so over-the-top incredible. Anyhow, we are kept on the edge on another twisty ride until it reaches that final outcome in that New Year's Eve climax aboard a jet plane over London. Everything we loved about the first film -- the stylish CG visual effects and nifty exciting film editing -- makes this sequel a worthy one, and makes us look forward to the third installment. This same familiarity though makes it lose some points versus the totally unpredictable original. However, this still had its own entertaining surprises up its sleeve to the very end. 7/10.