ReelBob: ‘Now You See Me 2’

By Bob Bloom

The first “Now You See Me” was an enjoyable romp, because it had a light-hearted, fun aspect to it.

Plus, the movie kept you guessing as to the identity of the puppet master who gathered four disparate magicians and welded them into a cohesive team of illusionists.

It was this surprise element that kept the audience anticipating a payoff that did not disappoint.

Unfortunately, there are no big surprises in “Now You See Me 2,” a disappointing sequel in which the Four Horsemen act more like a unit from a “Mission: Impossible” movie than a band of prestidigitators.

It has been more than a year since the Horsemen have performed. They are still wanted by the FBI and are keeping a very low profile.

Henley (Isla Fisher) has departed, making room for a new female accomplice, Lula (Lizzy Caplan).

The group’s leader and mastermind, revealed as Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo), still is with the FBI, and is doing his best to mislead the bureau as to the fugitives’ whereabouts.

Soon, however, the Horsemen, Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson) and Jack Wilder (Dave Franco), are back in the spotlight, as they work to foil the unethical and illegal activities of a tech magnet.

The magical Robin Hoods soon are cajoled into pulling off a nearly impossible heist for Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe), a tech prodigy, who everyone else believes is dead.

They reluctantly agree, and soon find themselves battling to thwart not only Mabry, but also an old adversary from their past.

The problem with this sequel is that it lacks suspense and catches no one unawares.

Figuring out who is doing what to who is nearly as easy as one of the Horsemen pulling a rabbit out of a hat.

Also returning are Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman, and discerning their roles in all the capers is rather simple.

One of the film’s biggest missteps was the decision to have Harrelson play a dual role as his own twin brother, who sides with the adversaries trying to gain the advantage over the Horsemen.

Harrelson’s double act is totally unnecessary, as nothing in the film really takes advantage of the situation. Any other actor could have played this antagonist, as it seems a totally arbitrary decision to make this character Merritt’s “womb mate.”

At just under two hours, “Now You See Me 2” is badly paced, moving in fits and starts. In between a lot of running and action, are several dead spaces.

This is one of those unnecessary sequels that simply was produced to make a few extra dollars.

The fact that a third movie is hinted at during the finale should make you consider performing a vanishing act from your neighborhood multiplex.

Bloom is a member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. His reviews appear at ReelBob (reelbob.com) and Rottentomatoes (www.rottentomatoes.com). He also reviews Blu-rays and DVDs. He can be reached by email at bobbloomjc@gmail.com or on Twitter @ReelBobBloom.

NOW YOU SEE ME 2
1 1/2 stars out of 4
(PG-13), violence, language

  • ReelBob

    The magic has disappeared from this sequel. Read the full review at ReelBob. Let me know if you disagree with my take on the film and we can discuss it.