Now You See Me 2 (3 stars)

Now You See Me 2

Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson and co return for an initially maddening, eventually entertaining sequel

It helps to have seen Now You See Me, in which four magicians, brought together by a mysterious mastermind, staged David Copperfield-like spectacles in Las Vegas, New Orleans and New York to defraud, embarrass and expose some bad guys. The revenge caper now continues, in reverse. The band are reunited to take their illusions global — from NYC to Macau to London — but a different mysterious mastermind is pulling their strings, to sinister and vengeful ends.

Jon M Chu’s sequel is hopelessly confusing if you have not seen the first film, and plenty maddening if you have. We are re-introduced to The Four Horsemen (Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco and, oh, Lizzy Caplan replacing Isla Fisher as the token woman). In an interminable set-up, Morgan Freeman’s voiceover summarises the entire original film and there is a lengthy flashback to the inciting incident of that revenge plot. Everyone’s been in hiding for a year since, except Mark Ruffalo’s maverick FBI agent, whose slow-on-the-uptake colleagues are concerned about his obsession with the Horsemen.

There is waaay too much talking, and waiting around for some magic gives you too much time to ponder plot holes and how impossible absolutely everything is. Eventually a new villain emerges (Daniel Radcliffe! As a kind of Dr Evil Jr!), there’s an overly elaborate display of ‘cardistry’ employed in a baffling heist, and then finally things click in an entertaining buildup of ever cooler illusions; New Year’s Eve in London making a glamorous backdrop for terrific deceptions, tricks, stunts, vanishings and revelations. The Horsemen are smug, the plot sometimes impenetrable but the third act is such cleverly orchestrated fun perhaps there is hope that all will become clear in the already announced Now You See Me 3.

General release from Mon 4 Jul.

Now You See Me 2

  • 3 stars
  • 2016
  • US
  • 1h 55min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Jon M Chu
  • Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Lizzy Caplan, Jesse Eisenberg
  • UK release: 4 July 2016

The Four Horsemen (Eisenberg, Harrelson, Franco and Caplan in place of Fisher) get involved once more in a magic-themed plot to foil some bad guys. Hopelessly confusing if you haven't seen the first one and plenty maddening even if you have, it eventually clicks in an entertaining buildup of cool illusions.