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The first in the series saw the Four Horsemen, a group of illusionists, escape artists and stage magicians come together and perform extraordinary feats of of magic, robbing a wealthy insurance magnate by pulling a Robin Hood and dropping the money into the bank accounts of the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Lots of twists and turns and double-crosses and slight-of-hand kept everyone wondering what was going on.
Now comes the next chapter and once again, the gang is all here, though there is one change. J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), is a cocky street magician who is known publicly as the leader of the group; Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson) is an illusionist and hypnotist; Jake Wilder (Dave Franco) is a talented thief, pickpocket and vocal impressionist and Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) is an FBI agent who is actually a member of The Eye, a secret magician’s organization. Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher) is not returning to the second film as Fisher was pregnant. That leave newcomer Lula (Lizzy Caplan) to fill her shoes as the new Horseman, or as she makes note in the clip, the ‘girl horseman’. Expect lots of comedy like this.
The story takes place a year after the events of the first and the team makes a comeback in order to take down a corrupt and unethical tech leader named Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe) who has framed the Horsemen, forcing them to take on one last impossible heist. If that sounds a bit familiar, it is basically the same plot as this year underwhelming Triple 9 as well. Heists are big in Hollywood.
Directed by Jon M. Chu, who didn’t win many fans over with his last effort, the better than expected Jem and the Holograms, this seizure-inducing trailer is like a strobe light, with flashing colors zipping by so fast its hard to keep track of what is going on. It’s good to see Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine returning, though surely in limited roles.
The thing about the first film was the question of whether what was happening was tricks or actual magic. A lot of what was shown certainly felt like the latter. With this second clip, that question seems to be on the table again, with one particularly strange moment when Daniel appears to be controlling rain. It’s doubtful that it is a dream sequence and since The Eye was revealed to be reality, where magicians are said to possess actual magic, perhaps this is the direction Now You See Me 2 is going, which will be disappointing as the best part about magic is knowing that it is not real and that we’ve been tricked by great illusions. That goes the same for a screenplay. Deus Ex Machina tropes and tricks are never that satisfying, and to know that these talented people are in fact using real magic rather than clever manipulation will be very disappointing.
Now You See Me 2 opens June 10, 2016.
Jon M. Chu
Ed Solomon (screenplay), Pete Chiarelli (story)
Lizzy Caplan, Daniel Radcliffe, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Dave Franco