Now You See Me 2 was released in theaters on June 10, 2016. It comes three years after its predecessor, which was filled with thrills, surprising twists and of course magic. Now You See Me was a surprise success at the box office and ended up making quite a bit of money. Audiences loved it, making a sequel inevitable.
In this installment, the Horsemen (Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, and newcomer Lizzy Caplan) are forced to pull off a heist for a tech genius (Daniel Radcliffe) who ultimately threatens to ruin them.
The beauty of Now You See Me was the mystique that surrounded the magic tricks and the anticipation of a big reveal which you knew had to be coming at any moment. That is where the sequel makes a slight departure from its original. The magic tricks sprinkled throughout the film do not rival those of the first. They are pleasant to watch, but not nearly as intriguing. With the exception of the very final trick, they are a little forgettable.
One of the best elements of this film is the further characterization of Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo). Through flashbacks to his childhood, we witness the bond that Rhodes shared with his father. We also get a better understanding of what drove him to pull off the heist of the first film, which landed Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman) in prison. Ruffalo is wonderful in this film and proves his talent yet again. He is vulnerable when he needs to be, funny when the moment calls for it and shows off his mean right hook in a cool and unexpected fight scene.
The rest of the Horsemen do not get nearly as much character development. If possible, we know even less about them than we did when we met them in the first film. This is especially true for Caplan, whose character Lula fills the void left by Isla Fisher’s Henley. The four of them do provide a few good laughs and it is satisfying and refeshing to see them triumph again.
Michael Caine returns as the villainous billionaire Arthur Tressler, still hellbent on revenge for the damage done to his image and fortune. It turns out his illegitimate son Walter (Radcliffe) has a similar beef with the Horsemen and the two of them band together to exact “justice”. Their motivations are well laid out and they do prove to be formidable opponents for most of the movie.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the introduction of another new character who I found to be extremely annoying and unnecessary to the overall film. I won’t spoil it for you, but be on the lookout!
The cinematography and general look of the film is perfectly fine for a movie of its kind. The lighting and the tricks may be somewhat predictable or underwhelming, but nothing makes this film an eyesore or pain to watch.
Now You See Me 2 is a solid film. It’s not perfect, but it also does not pretend to be. It’s just fun for the fun of it! Like the first installment, it had a modest open in theaters, but is projected to fare well when all is said and done. I would say that a third film is imminent.
NYSM 2 also stars: Morgan Freeman, Jay Chou, Sanaa Lathan, and David Warshofsky. It is directed by Jon M. Chu and the screenplay comes from Ed Solomon.