The Four Horsemen are back to try and right the wrongs of the world through the use of magic
The follow up to Now You See Me sees The Four Horsemen reunite once again to wow the world through their use of magic.We left The Four Horsemen after they successfully pulled off three magic shows guided by Mark Ruffalo’s Dylan Rhodes. Together they exacted revenge on the corporate companies that played a part in Rhodes’ father’s death and aftermath – from the steel manufacturing company that made the safe to the insurance company that wouldn’t pay out. Now part of the illusive ‘Eye’, The Four Horsemen are back. It’s been just over a year and with Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) still presumed dead, The Horsemen are getting itchy feet, desperate to appear on the big stage once more.Having lost faith in presumably all things magic, we’re told that Henley (Isla Fisher) has been permitted to leave the group and is swiftly replaced by Lula (Lizzy Caplan) who’s sleight of hand is almost a match for Jack’s. Frustrated with hiding in the shadows and eager to flex his magical muscles, Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg) seeks out the 'Eye' for himself going behind the back of the group and their leader Rhodes. Meanwhile, Rhodes has continued his position within the FBI preventing those around him from hunting down the Robin Hood-style magicians.
Eventually The Horsemen are given the opportunity to once again take to the big stage, this time in an effort to expose a phone company's plan to invade public privacy. Hijacking the product launch Atlas, mentalist Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson) and newbie Lula begin their show much to the surprise of their unsuspecting audience. Having planned their return performance down to the smallest detail, it’s only a matter of time before something is bound to go wrong.
As usual the foursome are forced to make a run for it following their most recent performance in order to evade capture but, wind up finding themselves magically transported to Macau and thrust into the hands of a young wannabe magician, Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliff). Back in the U.S, without any knowledge of where The Horsemen are, Rhodes reluctantly turns to Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman) who’s been living it up in prison, courtesy of Rhodes. Eager to discover who’s behind The Horsemen’s unscheduled trip abroad, Rhodes sets out to find the truth while The Horsemen are left to fend for themselves.
The first instalment of this franchise was directed by Louis Leterrier but the torch has now been passed to Jon M. Chu to deliver the sequel. With the same screen writer on board, Ed Soloman, the follow-up maintains a lot of the same qualities as the first film. A lot of reviews have panned Now You See Me 2 but I personally feel that it follows a similar path to the original, there is slightly less focus on the magic and showmanship, but it does use the skills our characters are meant to posses to help them get out of tricky situations; in a notable scene sleight of hand is used to great effect to conceal a playing card as each of them gets searched. Granted, the big reveal in the first film had the potential to hinder any follow up, and the ‘twist’ or big reveal here doesn’t pack quite the same punch but there are enough ‘if you don’t look close enough you’ll miss it’ moments to carry this film through to the end.
The editing and cinematography work brilliantly to deliver this slick and seamless magic show
As for the performances it’s clear to see that Eisenberg and Ruffalo are the main characters and both do great jobs in each of their roles. Rhodes is given the chance this time around to actually display his magical skill set in one scene where he must evade a group of thugs which makes for an enjoyable watch. There perhaps isn’t much of the same chemistry between the new four horsemen as there was in the original film, but Caplan does her best to bring a light hearted quirkiness to the group.
Harrelson doubles up this time as his own twin Chase McKinney sporting gleaming white teeth and a perm. It does briefly work for a few laughs but ultimately feels a bit frustrating and too forced. One can only guess that Harrelson was given this additional role as Merritt’s character felt a bit weak and left in the background. Franco remains in good form and continues his acrobatic style of sleight of hand. Radcliff had the potential to be a bit annoying as Walter but actually gave a good performance in a role different to his previous ones playing a character that oozes desperation for parental praise.
For a film that relies on misleading it’s audience, it does well. Once you know the ending it does all make perfect sense and doesn’t really feel as though there has been a big reveal. That said, the journey the film takes in order to reach the end is definitely worth it. No, there isn’t as much magic but the ‘magic’ that is used is fun to watch. With hypnotism, sleight of hand and pick pocketing a-plenty, this follow-up is extremely enjoyable and potentially paves the way for another instalment.
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