Lionel Shrike drowns in an iron safe as his son watches along helplessly in an escape artist trick gone wrong. Also present is Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman), a magic debunker Dylan Shrike blames for his father’s death. Three decades later and now under a new pseudonym, Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) finally gets his revenge and puts his dad’s arch nemesis behind bars, or so he thought. Orchestrating a grand escape plan, Bradley exposes his identity, compromising his cover within the FBI and sabotaging the comeback attempt of the Four Horsemen. Danny Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson), Jack Wilder (Dave Franco), and new member Lula May (Lizzy Caplan) end up in Macau, where they are forced by eccentric millionaire Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe) to steal a data mining device, a part of a more elaborate revenge plot they are about to discover later on. But they are not alone in this fight, as The Eye continues to oversee their every move. But will their guidance be enough for them to get out of this mess this time around?
The thing about Now You See Me is that aside from the awesome magic tricks, they also had a lot of twists in store to keep the flow of the story interesting. It seems as though this sequel lacks that advantage. This is not to say that it does not have twists at all. In fact, there are several here, including one big reveal towards the end of the movie. Even so, the rising number of characters involved makes everything feel a little bit too contrived and convenient. The thrill of watching them try to get away with it is still there, but somehow you already have this lingering feeling that The Eye will swoop down anytime to save the day. Deus Ex Machina much?
But the magic does not go away. Staying true to the storytelling technique prevalent in the first film, there is an attempt to explain the more complicated tricks that they do. But still, there are many others which are visually appealing to watch, but simply deny logic and physics. Even so, we just have to believe them without explanations whatsoever, because it’s magic. Besides, we can be forgiving because the execution is on point anyway. Hey, it’s really entertaining!
Isla Fisher’s Henley indeed left a mark, although it’s not that strong for you to actually miss her. Caplan is a viable alternative, even though her character really does come off as a bit too loud and trying hard. She does her part convincingly well anyway, and we just ride along in the end. Henley’s absence is mentioned in passing, which is more than enough for her fan base to move on, if she has one to begin with, that is. Fisher was pregnant during filming, which explains her disappearance.
The premise is pretty much the same, continuing the Robin Hood storyline of stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. What’s new is the revenge angle from some returning characters who got the shorter end of the stick at the end of the first film. The locations are more international this time around, bringing us to Macau and London, which is not a bad idea after all. There is more focus on The Eye as an institution, and we do get to meet who is behind it, after keeping it a secret all this time. Overall, it’s still a good heist thriller worth watching.