A few years back, “Now You See Me” introduced its audiences to the wonders of on-screen magic, allowing moviegoers to be engulfed by the bewilderment induced by the lengths the film could go with their tricks.
We were introduced to The Four Horsemen, a group of profound magicians brought together by one desire, to use their skills to give the power and money back to people that had been taken from them by their corrupt leaders. Through deception, strategy, and a whole lot of unexplainable magic tricks, the team was able to successfully rob a bank and rain its money down from the sky before escaping into the night.
Following its 2013 predecessor, “Now You See Me: The Second Act” ups the ante with its remarkable magic feats and enjoyable humor, but falls slightly short when it comes to its story. After the events of the first film, The Four Horsemen are wanted criminals — this time without Isla Fisher— and unable to show their faces in public, they are forced into the shadows. But their incognito lifestyle doesn’t last long. After a new member joins their group, and due to their seemingly never-satisfied thirst for the spotlight, they decide it’s time to hit the stage once again.
Unfortunately, not long after they begin their presentation, the FBI tracks them down, forcing them to use their backup plan and flee the building. The good news is they get out of the building, but the bad news for them is they end up out of the country.
After an unexplainable turn of events, the group finds themselves in Macau, China. At the same time, they also become aware that it was no accident. They are taken to Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe), who informs them that he doesn’t want to turn them in, he wants their help. He needs the Horsemen to steal a computer chip that supposedly has the power to control every computer in the world, which would make him the most powerful man in the world. With no choice but to cooperate, the group devises and operates a plan to get the chip.
Up to this point in the film, approximately 40 or so minutes in, the story is undeniably rough. While it is still understandable, it seems to be a little unsure of its motivation. Instead of a strong, concise plot, it leaves a lot of various blank spaces where things were brought full circle.
Nevertheless, the situational and character humor brought out by the characters, mixed with some very engaging magic tricks, is enough to make anyone stick around for the rest of the film. From this point on, the story begins to bring itself together and becomes a much stronger narrative. Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman), who was thrown in jail at the end of the first film, is released by Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) after the former convinces the latter they have unfinished business with each other.
Of course, their interaction soon takes a wrong turn when Thaddeus vanishes, and Rhodes is found and captured by Mabry’s men. As the story unfolds, we find out some twists regarding the characters’ back stories, and the group is left with a chance to expose Mabry and Bradley in front of the world, with magic of course.
This was by far the most enjoyable part of the movie. From the slick sleight of hand and the quick reactions, to the monumental acts that left the whole crowd speechless, the varying tricks pulled off by the characters are nothing short of awe-inducing. Of course, there were several tricks that were undeniably impossible to achieve in real life, but they were incredibly entertaining and satisfying to witness. The ending of the movie resembles its predecessor, as it puts the group in a seemingly inescapable situation, with absolutely no way out.
Knowing how they were able to escape the first time through, it is easy to see through most of the perilous veil.
But even so, due to the gravity of the final scenes and to the extent they were pulled off, I can say I enjoyed parts of it.
Although the plot had several weak points and unnecessary turns and decisions, I was left satisfied simply by the way the tricks unfolded. The writers did a fantastic job of allowing the audience to follow along with the characters, while at the same time allowing the magic to have the same effect on us that it would on someone in real life.