Now You See Me
was a glossy and entertaining heist film that played out like
with magicians. What was most surprising was how willing the magicians were to reveal their secrets.
Second time around, The Four Horsemen's performance once again involves telling how they pull off their tricks. If only the plot revealed itself with the same clarity.
Since bringing down insurance mogul Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine) by robbing a bank in Paris from Las Vegas, and in the process framing magic debunker Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman) for the crime, The Four Horsemen have been lying low for a year.
They're brought together again by leader Dylan (Ruffalo) to hijack a tech company's product launch and expose the CEO's intentionally privacy-threatening software.
Unfortunately for Atlas (Eisenberg), Jack (Franco), Merritt (Harrelson) and Lula (Lizzy Caplan) - who replaces Isla Fisher's character - a super-rich nerd called Walter (Daniel Radcliffe) outmanoeuvres them, and they're forced to steal a super-powerful computer chip for him.
Slick, well-paced and filled with witty put-downs and snarky quips, the appeal lies in trying to work out the significance of each scene - are things as they appear or are The Four Horsemen setting up their next trick?
What's less appealing is how the story and sense of suspense gets lost in the cleverness and a preposterous premise, with explanations leaving more questions than answers.
When the story comes full circle to involve characters from the original film, it's deja vu.
Thankfully, when it comes to making magic cool, the horsemen deliver. The magic set-pieces are energetic, entertaining and a highlight, and newcomer Caplan has fun as the only female in the troop, gently mocking the cliched role of women in the world of magic.
Other than Lula, we learn little new about the characters, even as Merritt confronts his evil twin brother, and Dylan is forced to come to terms with his magician father's death.
The inclusion of Radcliffe as the quirky villain doesn't quite work either - he lacks the cool appeal of the other characters. As light, fun and appealing to fans of the original as this sequel is, the Horsemen's next trick may be a disappearing one.
Review: Now You See Me 2
Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco Director Jon M. Chu
: 129 mins
A mix of muddled storytelling and awesome magic tricks.