• by Wes Singleton

Review: Now You See Me 2, C

Rated PG-13, 129 minutes

With magic, there's always more than meets the eye, and what you get in the caper "Now You See Me 2" is all flash and little substance, just a bunch of nifty, entertaining tricks and not much else. After fleeing from a stage show, the illusionists (Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, Lizzy Caplan) known as the Four Horsemen find themselves in more trouble in Macau, China. Devious tech wizard Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe) forces the infamous magicians to steal a powerful chip that can control all of the world's computers. Meanwhile, vengeful FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) hatches his own plot against Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman), the man he blames for the death of his father. "Now You See Me 2" is the slick, star-studded thriller and unnecessary sequel to the 2013 hit "Now You See Me," this time directed by "Step Up's" Jon Chu and written by the first film's co-writer Ed Solomon that's an overlong, mildly entertaining and even more far-fetched and preposterous caper than the first. Some of that is supposed to be the point, but then I wasn't exactly a huge fan of the first film (magic tricks can carry a film so far), and this film is intent on providing as many crazy plot twists and turns as possible, not to mention it feels the need to explain every single trick and its set up, and where is the fun in that; all that blathering and explanation adds a good 15-20 minutes to an already overextended movie. Here, everything seems a bit of a stretch: the Four, well really Five Horseman now if you add in Ruffalo, criss-cross the world sight unseen as highly sought after criminals yet no one at all seems to notice them hopping an airplane or grabbing a donut, and somehow Freeman's character still has the perfect set up, in prison no less. Admittedly, there are some entertaining moments with all the elaborate shenanigans, with the best trick in "NYSM2" coming mid-film when they steal a powerful chip and sneak it out in a playing card, but even that is mostly due to some flashy editing. The overstuffed, all-star cast is serviceable, but with so many of them they seem to step over each other; the unnecessary addition of a Woody Harrelson twin is mostly annoying, though Harrelson is game, while returning Oscar-winner Michael Caine and "Harry Potter's" Radcliffe are both wasted as the chief villains. Hypnosis is used quite a bit, and much like the first film, the modestly entertaining but lackluster "Now You See Me 2" may cast a spell, giving the illusion of a good movie, when in reality, there isn't much there.