nowyouseeme2coverGrade: B-
Entire family: No
2016, 129 min., Color
Rated PG-13 for violence and some language
Summit Entertainment
Aspect ratio: 2.40:1 widescreen
Featured audio: Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD compatible)
Bonus features: B-
Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, Digital HD
Amazon link

Now You See Me 2 is a solid sequel that’s as glitzy and stylish as the first—even though it may be a little harder to figure out. This heist thriller brings back Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, and David Franco (James’ brother) as three of the Four Horsemen—magicians who pulled off grand illusions as diversions so they could steal from the conniving rich and give their money away to common people.

That Robin Hood theme isn’t a part of the second film, which opens with Jack Wilder (Franco) thought dead and Atlas (Eisenberg) and McKinney (Harrelson) waiting for instructions from The Eye. In short order they are given a fourth illusionist named Lula May (Lizzy Caplan) and their contact/handler, FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) tells them they are to expose a software magnate who is stealing user data.

nowyouseeme2screen1It really helps to have seen the original, as what emerges is a revenge motif that’s dependent on your knowledge of the past. Even so, it’s possible to enjoy Now You See Me 2 as a stand-alone film because it’s essentially a come-uppance plot that involves grand illusions that are mostly unexplained. So what’s a little extra confusion?

The FBI, led by new chief Natalie Austin (Sanaa Lathan) is out to get the Four Horsemen, not knowing that Agent Rhodes is playing both sides. They’re not the only ones with an axe to grind. Rhodes’ nemesis (Morgan Freeman as Thaddeus Bentley) wants to bring them down because he was framed by them in the first film because Rhodes thought him responsible for the death of his father, a Houdini-like magician. Their original handler (Michael Caine) is also disgruntled with them and wants to bring them down, with the assistance of his son (Daniel Radcliffe).

nowyouseeme2screen2Everything starts to hit the fan when the Horsemen expose that software magnate but are themselves exposed at that same event, which forces them to go on the run. They escape through a previously placed chute but instead of going according to plan they mysteriously find themselves in Macau, where they become involved with all sorts of danger and intrigue and Jay Chou, a popular Taiwanese musician/actor who plays a magic shop employee.

The plot of Now You See Me 2 is a little more convoluted than the original, meaning it’s going to be for ages 13 and up—not so much because of anything that is censorable, but because it’s intellectually demanding. Much depends on the audience’s ability to figure out some things on the fly, as well as their willingness to just have fun and appreciate the rest without needing to have every last thing explained. Aside from some confusion, Now You See Me 2 offers everything you’d want from a film like this: great production values, great performances, and illusions that are rendered with equally great special effects.

Language: One f-bomb and multiple lesser swearwords
Sex: Nothing here
Violence: Hand-to-hand combat, bloody loss of body part (that turns out to be fake)
Adult situations: A boy watches while his father drowns inside a safe
Takeaway: Though it’s a half-grade less than the original, this film about magic can get away with a lot