Movie review of “Now You See Me 2”: The gang — including Mark Ruffalo, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco and Lizzy Caplan — returns for One Last Heist, but will anyone really care? Rating: 2 stars out of 4.
The original “Now You See Me,” in theaters three summers ago, made a lot of money but nonetheless vanished like a puff of smoke from the minds of anyone who saw it. Not that it was bad, exactly — no film in which Mark Ruffalo, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine share a screen can be a total waste of time — but it was the kind of movie that reminded you of a dozen other movies, yet never found its own flavor.
Now, the magician/superhero/con artists/whatever-they-are from the original film, known as the Four Horsemen although there’s actually at least five of them, are back, more or less, for “Now You See Me 2.” (Lizzy Caplan subs for Isla Fisher in this edition, as apparently there can only be one female horseman at a time.) This time, Our Gang — which also includes Jesse Eisenberg (in yet another variant of his Cranky Guy in a Hoodie persona), Woody Harrelson and Dave Franco — emerges from hiding to pull off One Last Heist: recovering an all-powerful computer chip stolen from reclusive yet charming businessman Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe).
Can they do it? Will anyone care? Everything looks glossy and expensive, as director Jon M. Chu and screenwriter Ed Solomon whisk the action from New York to Macau to London, and the A-list cast does their best to keep things lively. Harrelson has some fun with a double role (who knew Merritt had a rogue twin?), and Radcliffe is, as always, charming. Speaking of a tech tycoon now his sworn enemy, Mabry says, “Owen and I were like the Beatles, if the Beatles were …” “ … Elfin?” someone suggests, earning a dirty look.
Movie Review ★★
‘Now You See Me 2,’ with Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Daniel Radcliffe, Woody Harrelson, Morgan Freeman, Lizzy Caplan, Dave Franco, Jay Chou, Sanaa Lathan, Michael Caine. Directed by Jon M. Chu, from a screenplay by Ed Solomon. 129 minutes. Rated PG-13 for violence and some language. Several theaters.
But the basic problem here remains: Magic is the language these characters speak, and magic just doesn’t work on a movie screen — because it’s magic already. We’ve got no way of knowing whether the sleight-of-hand tricks constantly being performed are for real, so it’s impossible to be impressed by them. And once you take away that language, what remains is, well, “Ocean’s 11” minus half the crew and much of the cleverness. Try to remember this movie, a few days after seeing it, and you’ll find that — like magic — it’s disappeared.
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