HOLLYWOOD—I remember when I first saw the caper-flick “Now You See Me” a few years ago, and boy did that movie surprise me. It had great character development, a narrative that hooked the viewer and was just fun to see some epic magic tricks unfold in front of your eyes. Three years later, we have the sequel “Now You See Me 2” with some notable additions.
I will acknowledge for fans of the first installment a familiar face is missing this time around in Isla Fisher whose character does not appear in this installment. She is instead replaced by Lizzy Caplan who portrays illusionist Lula May. It’s not a bad casting choice, it’s just that chemistry dynamic between Dave Franco, Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg and Fisher is missing. Caplan is a worthy replacement, but for fans of the first installment you wish Isla was in the mix. Danny (Eisenberg), Merritt (Harrelson), and Jack (Franco) have all been in hiding, awaiting news on their next mission.
While waiting, the crew receives news from FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo), who was revealed to be helping the horsemen at the end of the first movie, of a new task. This time around the gang is hired to expose businessman Owen Case (Ben Lamb) who is stealing data from his clients for his own benefit. There are plenty of surprises in this second chapter, which has definitely amped up the level of twists and magical tricks to leave the audience literally asking, “How in the world did they do that?”
I mean we discover a character has a mischievous twin brother, people who we expect to be allies are actually enemies and there are people bonded that you would least expect. That same formula that worked the first time around is replicated again and while it’s somewhat familiar it is different enough to keep the viewer engaged and wondering how the entire story will play out.
We also see the return of some familiar faces in Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman who reprise their roles as Arthur Tressler and Thaddeus Bradley. New faces to the cast include Daniel Radcliffe who portrays Walter Mabry, a tech guru who is holding many more secrets than what viewers initially expect. Sanaa Lathan also joins the cast as Dylan’s partner, Natalie Austin who questions his allegiance.
With a movie like “Now You See Me 2,” it’s difficult to talk about the story without giving hints to the spectator about what might transpire. Let’s just say there is plenty of backstabbing, magical tricks that are almost hard to explain with words. The visuals are some of the bet that I’ve seen in years, which will force the viewer to question if what they’re seeing could ACTUALLY be pulled off in the real world.
Director Jon M. Chu takes over directorial duties that were previously held by Louis Leterrier, and while not perfect, Chu finds a way to relegate a steady pace that doesn’t move too fast or too slow. My one gripe is that the flick does seem at times to tackle a bit too much at one time which impacts the narrative slightly. For those who were fans of the first movie, the second flick will be a treat! I will point out, for those who haven’t seen the first flick; it might be a smart idea to do so before venturing into the theater.