Reviewed by: Jessica D. Lovett
the deceptions of illusionists / sleight of hand
bringing to light the evil deeds of others
How do I know what is right from wrong? Answer
How can I decide whether a particular activity is wrong? Answer
Are we living in a moral Stone Age? Answer
Daniel Radcliffe … Walter
Mark Ruffalo … Dylan Rhodes
Jesse Eisenberg … J. Daniel Atlas
Morgan Freeman … Thaddeus Bradley
Woody Harrelson … Merritt McKinney
Michael Caine … Arthur Tressler
Lizzy Caplan … Lula
Dave Franco … Jack Wilder
Sanaa Lathan … Natalie Austin
Henry Lloyd-Hughes … Allen Scott-Frank
Jay Chou … Li
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|Director:||Jon M. Chu—“Jem and the Holograms” (2015), “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” (2013), “Step Up 2 the Streets” (2008)|
|Distributor:||Summit Entertainment, a division of Lionsgate Films|
Prequel: “Now You See Me” (2013)
When I reviewed the first “Now You See Me” two years ago, it was obvious that the ending didn’t quite feel finished and that the movie was set up to have a sequel. Especially in this era of remakes of remakes, some sequels can feel forced, yet a sequel from a story this original, with such intriguing characters, is definitely welcomed. “Now You See Me 2” takes place one year after the first film. The Four Horsemen have been laying low after their antics outwitting the FBI and exposing the corrupt businessman Arthur Tessler (Michael Caine). Anxious for the spotlight again and to do what they do best—taking it upon themselves to bring justice to dishonest people in high places—Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg) decides to take the reins from their leader, and infiltrator FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo), but realizes that he has allowed his over confidence in himself to compromise his friend’s safety. Blackmailed into a difficult heist job by tech prodigy Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe), the group’s distinctive skills are tested in the most daring stunts yet! Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman) returns and claims to want to help, but can they really be sure whose side he is on? Woody Harrelson’s role takes on a new dimension, too, but I hate to give away his plot twist by letting on to you now.
Due to Ilsa Fisher being unable to reprise her role as Henley Reeves, Lizzy Caplan is added to the lineup as the fourth Horseman, Lula May. Henley’s relationship with Daniel Atlas ending is predictably blamed for her absence, and Lula becoming the fourth Horseman also predictably matches her up romantically with Jack Wilder (Dave Franco). And that’s where the predictability ends! If you don’t like jet-speed action and plot twists that have twists that have more twists up until the last frame, then you probably won’t enjoy this movie. If not knowing is half the fun, I’d recommend it as an enjoyable diversion.
The Robin Hood style magic show spectacles of The Four Horseman raise questions about what true justice really is and who is qualified to dispense that justice. The concept of personal vendettas is explored and is proven to be futile in the end. The film also ponders how far into deception one may go before the quest for justice by means of that deception is itself undermined by it and turns into something unjust. Can a person truly engage in deceiving others to prove truth?
The Four Horseman and Rhodes develop as characters, becoming self-sacrificially loyal to one another and more of a family than just five very different people thrown together from different circumstances, with only their experiences in performing magic tricks as common ground. The subject of privacy and information sharing, as related to modern technology is explored, as well.
It is a bit complicated to address the content, in that most of the more graphic violence in the film turns out to be illusions within the story itself. Lula appears to be beheaded, lose her hand, cut her arm with an electric knife, and behead a pigeon—but they all prove to be tricks, and no injuries actually take place. Despite these things being illusions, they are still graphic and quite jarring. Someone is stuck in a safe and thrown into a lake, people appear to be thrown out of a plane, and characters are thrown from motorcycles. There are a couple of fist fights, and Dylan is beaten by the bad guys as they try to get information from him.
Two characters have champagne, and there are a couple of bar scenes with people drinking beer. Lula takes off her bra to distract men (while still wearing her dress), and there are some women in casino-type dresses. Dylan has reoccurring psychological trauma and flashbacks due to being present as a little boy when his father was tragically killed in a failed magic trick attempt, and the audience is made to feel his deep pain from this, as well as watching the event, itself.
There are no sex scenes, but characters share a kiss.
There are approximately 20 or so profanities, on the level of OMG (3), “Jesus” (2), “god d**m” (2), “oh g*d” (2), “he**,” “a**h*le,” “bast*rd,” s-words (7), “d*ck” (1), and the like, and also a man gesturing with his middle finger a couple of times.
Lying for the “greater good” is seen as okay, and the characters certainly aren’t great role models, so use caution when considering taking teenagers to this film.
This bedazzled, frenetically paced film certainly isn’t for everyone’s tastes, but will be enjoyed by those who enjoy not knowing what is going to happen next. Though it may be a little over the top—think bright cityscapes flanked by giant exploding fireworks shows and elaborate CGI card tricks—this heist thriller comedy is an optimistically-spirited film that feels like an updated version of the witty, slightly-flashy kinds of movies that Michael Caine was initially famous for in the 1960s and is a welcome release from many of the darker films currently out. It is evident that the filmmakers were aiming for explosive, imaginative visual feats and not taking themselves too seriously in this one. Not all plot holes are perfectly filled in, but I found it to be an enjoyable film and heard lots of laughs from my fellow moviegoers in the filled-to-the-brim theater.
Violence: Moderate to heavy / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Moderate
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.