Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Now You See Me 2


Wouldn’t you think it would make more sense to call this sequel Now You Don’t? It just seems such an unimaginative way to name a film, sticking a number on the back. But I guess they want to make sure you know this relates to a previous hit.

If anything, I liked this one a little better than the first. As before, the tricks are based on real principles of stage and street illusions. As before, there would have to have been incredible amounts of preparation to pull off many of the tricks. As before, I don’t buy for a second that people can be hypnotized against their will in literally two seconds without the use of mind-altering drugs. That, in fact, is my main objection to the picture. So many of the tricks depend on hypnosis. I feel this is a cheat. Smarter writers might have dreamed up illusions that didn’t rely on hypnosis, other than the post-hypnotic-suggestion sort.

But none of this spoiled my enjoyment. It is big and flamboyant and pleasantly ridiculous, like the first one, and the characters are appealing, particularly Lizzy Caplan, who replaces Isla Fisher. The good guys, anyway. Daniel Radcliffe is particularly loathsome as one of the baddies. It feels very good to see him get his inevitable comeuppance. Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman reprise their roles. It would be nice if you saw the original before seeing this one, but I don’t think it’s necessary.

I did figure out the big payoff trick, where the Four Horsemen (should I issue a spoiler alert here? I guess, but you didn’t really think they were going to die, did you?) are tossed out of a private jet. As in all great cons, you have to realize that the trick is to convince the mark that he is getting the best of you, when he is actually doing exactly what you want him to do.

There was one trick I didn’t figure out, didn’t really think was possible, and I’m ashamed of myself for not spotting it. At one point Jesse Eisenberg is working outside in a roaring rainstorm. Then he stops the rain. I don’t mean it stops raining. The raindrops stop in midair. Then he makes them go upwards. Then he makes it stop. There is a big fat clue right in front of your face when they visit the magic shop in Macao. See if you can spot it.