While it comes off as silly to genuinely call either of these films good, I can say with the utmost confidence that Now You See Me 2 is a superior film in almost every way. Please take that statement with a grain of salt, as I think the first film is one of the most amazingly dumb/entertaining films of the past few years.
Picking up right where it's predecessor concludes (spoilers for the first film to follow), we once again follow the Horsemen as they are recruited by Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe) to pull off a task that is extremely hard to pull off. He himself is a magician of sorts, but due to personal leverage, he is able to convince this team to do as he says.
As I said, this is the better film of the two, with smarter plot twists and much needed emotional heft; However, being the better film, it can't help but get caught up in it's own new problems.
A little too convoluted for it's own good, Now You See Me 2 juggles too many characters at a time, bringing back a few unnecessary characters from the first. They could have easily done without the addition of Michael Caine's rendition of Arthur Tressler this time around, but that is more of a nitpick. By now, if you do end up seeing this film, you will be going with the flaws in mind from the original film.
There is not any kind of believable magic going on here, but movie magic, made to manipulate it's audience. Granted, this film deals with far less CGI, making for much more believable sequences.
What I admired about this film was it's hidden secrets that were left out of the trailer. The trailer for this film shows them being transported to Hong Kong without any explanation, but the way the film displays that act is believable enough to shrug off and go with it. There is much less magic going on here and more trickery, which was a needed change of pace in my opinion, because the first film tried balancing the two and kind of failing. This film finds it's footing and realizes that it is just a dumb fun mystery/thriller that can be clever.
The cleverness of the first film became slightly lost when the big reveals became comical, but keeping them all very close to the chest this time around, every twist felt earned. Overall, Now You See Me 2 is an average thriller at best, with solid direction, some cool camerawork, and fun performances all around.
For a film like this, there is a surprising amount of talent gleaming off the screen. Whether or not it was a budget thing or a personal reason, it was sad to see Isla Fisher missing this time around, but the rest of the cast reprised their roles and adding new members was definitely a plus. I had fun watching this sequel and if you enjoyed watching the first film, I can definitely recommend this one.
If you know what to expect, you will get exactly that. Now You See Me 2 is fun and clever, even if it diverts from that a little more than it should.
Review By: KJ Proulx