*It’s been three years since we last saw the world’s greatest illusionists, aka the Four Horsemen, playing a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse with the FBI. Now, the master magicians have resurfaced for a mesmerizing, mindbending adventure which ups the ante in terms of both audacity and visual capture.
This bombastic, bells-and-whistles sequel (“Now You See Me 2“) is given to wowing the audience via a combination of spectacular stunts and a dizzying array of exotic locales. Just don’t expect much in the way of a coherent plot and this pretentious, globe-trotting fantasy will never disappoint you.
Directed by Jon M. Chu (Jem and the Holograms), the picture co-stars Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg and Dave Franco who reprise their lead roles as Merritt, Daniel and Jack, respectively. Lizzy Caplan rounds out the principal cast as Lula, replacing Isla Fisher as a members of Four Horsemen. The A-list ensemble also includes Academy Award-winners Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine, as well as Daniel (“Harry Potter”) Radcliffe and Sanaa Lathan.
After needlessly filling in a superfluous bit of backstory from 1984, the movie fast-forwards to the present where we find our heroes being blackmailed by Walter Mabry (Radcliffe), a billionaire bad boy bent on world domination. He has designs on “The Stick,” a powerful computer chip which will afford him unfettered access to the back door of every computer on the planet.
Of course, the skeptical quartet proves adept at staying a step ahead of the megalomaniacal misanthrope. For, instead of accommodating the creep, they proceed to flaunt their seemingly-supernatural powers in daring displays of hocus-pocus.
Yes, the group is supposedly worried about restoring its tarnished reputation, too. However, that concern definitely takes a back seat to staging a series of increasingly-implausible magical acts.
Plus, there’s a healthy competition among the four which has each endeavoring to outdo the other. The ensuing ever-escalating feats make great fodder for an eye-popping blockbuster, even if what’s served up on screen is purely a product of cartoon physics.
Excellent (3.5 stars)
Rated PG-13 for violence and some profanity
Running time: 115 minutes