MOVIE REVIEW: Now You See Me 2

The sequel to the highly enjoyable first film which I think was called Now you see me, with only one major cast change picks up where we left off.  The Horsemen are down to three, and their leader and FBI Agent is still calling the shots.  Now the group face the biggest threat of their lives as an old foe returns to gain the revenge he believes is owed to him.  Let the magic tricks begin.

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When the first film came out I really enjoyed it.  I didn’t fall head over heals for it but you know it was a good steady film that you could watch any time and it would pass the dull moments that life throws at you.  I thought that the first film was CGI heavy and could have done more with the more improved magic tricks that are making their way across the circuits at the moment.  But as I said it was enjoyable enough and you knew that there would be a follow-up movie coming sooner or later.  It helped that the cast had this instant and undeniable chemistry and that the slight of hand that they used looked like it was well rehearsed.

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This time The Horsemen have been idle for a while and are getting restless.  Their leader and FBI Agent Mark Ruffalo is insisting that they need to work until they are almost one, but Jesse Eisenberg has contacted the Eye to see if he can take the place of the leader.  Meanwhile new cast member Lizzy Caplan takes the place of the former female team-mate and instantly has a crush on Dave Franco.  There is also a bizarre family reunion for Woody Harrelson.  Also returning are Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine reprising their roles.  Joining the cast are Woody Harrelson and Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe.  You’ll get what I mean about Mr. Harrelson when you watch this film.  Since leaving Harry Potter behind Radcliffe has been going through some personal issues and hasn’t looked well, but has still managed to show he’s more than the boy wizard.  Here he plays an unlikely villain hell-bent on getting the Horsemen to do his bidding.

There is the feeling of the second George Clooney Ocean’s 11 movie here, there are parts where the film works amazingly well and it’s a great pleasure to watch, and then something will just pop up and leave you wondering why they bothered.  Performance wise the new cast member Caplan jumps head first into the waters of the original chemistry and just blends straight in giving a great comedic element that Franco gave us the first time around.  The magic this time is more reality based than the CGI heavy tricks of the first film.  The over the top tricks are still around but this time they have gone more practical than computer based for most of the conjuring.  They travel from America to the Far East to London because mostly they had a bigger budget.

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There are a lot of films where you can just go in and tune out the world for 2 hours and this is one of those, with heavy references back to the first film, you’d be lost here if you haven’t seen it.  But if you look at this film as fluffy entertainment then you’re not going to get the full experience.  It’s an admirable sequel, not the car crash that some would have you believe it is, it manages to be better than the original in some ways and yet the danger feels gone in others.  You never feel that anyone is in real danger.

I’m reading that they have already planned a third movie in this series and I can only give them this piece of advice, up the stakes, make-believe that they are in real danger, make them in danger, kill off a character that we wouldn’t think you’d kill off.  In the end though I’ll probably pay my own cash to go see it with a crowd of fellow fans and buy the bluray’s as I bought the first one on that format.  I just wanted more danger, a little more darkness, and some true magic.  This is a good film and worth your time, if you have seen the first one, and if you believe in magic, true magic.

Director: Jon M. Chu
Writers: Ed Solomon, Peter Chiarelli, Edward Ricourt, Boaz Yakin
Stars: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson

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