Now You See Me 2 is a very satisfying sequel, not just in its similarity to the first film, but in the sequel’s confidence in its own storytelling. Yes, it’s completely ridiculous and requires a massive suspension of disbelief, but ultimately the film’s uniquely paced action and humor make for a unique franchise. What the film lacks in any sort of logic, it makes up for with a brilliant cast and a lack of self-seriousness that prevents it from cynicism.
The Four Horsemen are the most talented and celebrated magicians in the world, and following their plot to reveal a mastermind, Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), McKinney (Woody Harrelson), Wilder (Dave Franco), and Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) have remained in obscurity. After a plan to unveil a corrupt businessman goes wrong, the Horsemen escape with the help of a new recruit (Lizzy Caplan), only to find themselves at the mercy of a charismatic corporate head (Daniel Radcliffe). However, at this point the plot is almost secondary, with the emphasis on how the film can pull of its next big trick.
The returning cast are uniformly solid, with Eisenberg and Ruffalo combating for the film’s lead, and both managing to turn in solid performances despite the ridiculous material. Harrelson and Franco play smaller, more comedic parts, but do it well, and Lizzy Caplan’s addition, as tacked on as it is, does add some humor and wit to the story. However, the film’s best performance is by far Daniel Radcliffe’s, who brings a quirky egotism to the film’s antagonist, and presents the Horsemen with a very compelling foe.
There’s no way to logically break down the vents of the film, but it doesn’t drag at any points, and leaves nothing to be desired in terms of visual spectacle. Magicians, and there importance, are discussed at length, and as the film makes an argument for its own relevance, it so too offers a window into the world of magic. As sequels go, Now You See Me 2 is tour basic “when it happens again”, but it’s a welcome invitation that is worth the ride. Grade: B-