"Now You See Me 2" is an average crime thriller that is hindered by the success of the series' first installment. The unique nature of the original demands that this sequel moves in an entirely different direction and as a result, the only connection between the two films is that they contain the same main characters (one of whom is replaced). The first issue is that the opening of this film does a terrible job of recapping the first film. Any person who sees this after a 3-year hiatus from watching the original will have completely forgotten the characters and important events, making for a very confusing opening flashback. Since the film couldn’t center around Robin Hood-esque bank heists without being a total repeat, the thematic focus shifts into several different directions that include a love story, a character dealing with the lingering memories of his father’s death, an evil twin brother, a new international enemy, and a better understanding of The Eye. There is way too much going on and this oversaturated story would work better as standalone film than as a continuation of the original story. We loved “Now You See Me” because of the clever incorporation of magic tricks into “Ocean’s Eleven” scenarios, but every aspect of the sequel falls short. The whole card-throwing-around-the-secured-room sequence goes on for so long and is so farfetched that we lose the belief that this film could actually be real. The actors are decent, particularly Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine; meanwhile, Daniel Radcliffe feels like he was pigeonholed into this role in order to sell tickets and Woody Harrelson’s dual role is as ludicrous as it is comical. Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Dave Franco, and Lizzy Caplan work well together, but the magic tricks are the real star. Also, the cinematography of Macau and London outshine anything written in this script. I didn’t hate “Now You See Me 2” but I also believe that it has killed the momentum of the series instead of enhancing the story introduced by the first film.
[Pictured: The ensemble cast is good but, considering the names, you would expect a lot more]