THE SEQUEL to the “magic-comedy” hit, “Now You See Me,” was our big-screen viewing choice last week, because we’re partial to movies that take advantage of the film medium’s prodigious visual appeal and trickery.
The original film released in 2013 delighted viewers with its tale about four gifted amateur magicians, played by Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher and Dave Franco, who are used by an insurance magnate to effect a “magical” million-dollar heist.
It’s investigated by an FBI agent (Mark Ruffalo) who turns out to have a personal connection to the case and events leading up to it. And, seeking retribution for his magician-father’s mysterious death.
In the current sequel, the initially unresolved mystery continues to unravel, with basically the same stellar cast now “going international” to expose the unethical practices of a tech magnate (Michael Caine) and his son (Daniel Radcliffe).
They have come up with an amazing gizmo that will enable them to gain access to all computers in the world, and thus become all-powerful.
The magicians join forces with Ruffalo’s character to foil the masterminds’ sinister plan, and Ruffalo is also able to get the closure he needs in relation to his father’s controversial demise.
As the sequel unspools, viewers are faced with a number of follow-up puzzlers that are not “logically” explained, and thus get in the way of their enjoyment.
For our part, however, we found some of the movie’s magical conceits so diverting and disarming that we decided to just go along for the larky ride.
Yes, the follow-up film’s proceedings were too bloated and pumped up for its own good, but the stars’ prodigiously magical performances were feisty enough to sustain our attention.
In particular, stellar addition Daniel Radcliffe was a big plus with his “Harry Potter connection” dovetailing nicely into this new film’s own, updated magical “hook.”
In the final analysis, however, the sequel’s strongest suit is its deftness in combining the mystifying seduction of “unexplainable” prestidigitation with the film medium’s own magical allure and ability to entrance.
A highlight in this regard is the long and complicated sequence in which the movie’s resident magis are able to spirit the priceless, high-tech gizmo out of a top-security facility.
They do this by sequentially palming it off like a playing card and flipping it swiftly and magically from one fleeing cohort to the next!
Truth to tell, much of the “magical” action is improbable and quite unnecessary—but, oh, what a fun-tastic, presto-change-o trip!