The four horsemen are back – at least three of them are – in this breezy and amiably clever follow-up to 2013’s surprise heist movie hit.
Having laid low since their takedown of TV Sceptic Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman), the Horsemen find themselves growing restless. However, when they are activated by their mentor and sent on a mission they find themselves outmanoeuvred and exposed by a dangerous new opponent: Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe) who seeks to use the Horsemen for his own ends.
“Now You See Me 2” is a welcome return to the world of high concept high illusion heist capers, complete with the usual bag of tricks, flourishes and not a little prestige. The high calibre cast seem to be having a great time as they twist and turn their way through the plot, with Daniel Radcliffe looking exceedingly pleased to be casting off his ‘teenage magical persona’.
With the origins of the group out of the way, the second film dives further into the world of the mysterious magical organisation ‘The Eye’ and in sending the Horsemen on assignments which involve meticulous planning, deception, dexterity and sophisticated tools of the trade, the whole package ends up embodying the spirit and fun of the “Mission: Impossible” TV series far more than the increasingly Tom Cruise ego-driven movies do. “Now You See Me” is one of those movie franchises I would 100% watch a TV spin-off of, as the whole premise begs for a ‘mission of the week underpinned by a series-long arc’ kind of approach.
Of course, to fit the tighter budgets of TV, we’d probably have to let the cast go which would be a shame as they’re all pretty great here, especially Lizzy Caplan who has the biggest job to do establishing herself as a new character in amongst all the references and callbacks to the first film. Thankfully, the breezy tone helps both the action and the characters from getting tangled up by the sheer fantasticality of it all, leaving a surprisingly focussed multi-layered thriller.
Of course, if you weren’t wowed by the first movie, you’ll find little here to change your mind although it’s more out and out fun than its predecessor. If, however, you were a fan of the first, you’ll enjoy the cleverness of the twists and turns and – like me – marvel at the film’s ability to trick you once again with the advice that the closer you look, the less you’ll see. In a summer of flaccid and underwhelming sequels, “Now You See Me 2” manages to deliver exactly what you want: all the fun and intrigue of the first one, with a neat twist or two.