Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Daniel Radcliffe, Michael Caine, Dave Franco, Lizzy Caplan,Jay Chou
Director: Jon M Chu
Macau, the setting for much of this ensemble star cast rich caper, is plugged as the Vegas of the East. But there’s so much more to this beautiful peninsula located in southeast China. Such as a 400 plus year old Jesuit history it shares with Goa in the form of St Francis Xavier and its status as a Portuguese colony. And I don’t know about Vegas but Macau’s gambling system is kept astutely in check by an enlightened admin – the seven star Venetian has a large plaque testifying this at the entrance of a cavernous gambling hall.
But it’s the Sands that Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe) chooses to stay in, while trying to impress Daddy Dearest Arthur Tessler (Michael Caine) that he’s a chip off the old block. Alas and alack, Tessler is cynical to the bone and I can’t think of a film with a more soul-crushing whiplash than Tessler’s, “Dad? Why are you calling me Dad? I’ve slept with so many women I don’t even know whose b—–d you are!”).
Not all the magic in the world could soothe the angst and pain inflicted on poor Harry. Sorry Daniel who’s trying to look all grown up with a beard. A most fetching beard it is too, ladies, but Danny Boy’s who’s made trillions as an orphaned boy wizard can’t be too careful you know what with the gold digging sorts out there.
The magic in Jon Chu’s sequel is vastly different from the kind experienced in J K Rowling’s bestsellers. There’s no getting away from Houdini, the master escape artist who impressed the great Arthur Conan Doyle, but here, in this follow-up to 2013’s dazzling turn of the same name, the art of deception is moulded to appeal to a (hopefully) mature audience in its sly invocation of Scripture and emotion. Who are the Horsemen then of Now You See Me 2? The deadly quartet from the Apocalypse? Nah. The riders of fiery steeds yoked to the Prophet Elijah’s Chariots of Fire? Naah. Even so, one of the characters perceives the foursome as “Chosen…not because of who you are but what you can become…”
And pray what is that? Latter-day Robin Hoods who revel exposing chicanery in high places using the art of illusion while spouting speeches about sharing info and the right to privacy. Sadly, one such attempt goes awry right at the beginning of the film when the quartet wakes to find themselves in the gambling peninsula across Hong Kong. Inside a magic shop, director Chu and scriptwriter Ed Solomon intensify the emotional quotient in the narrative with Dylan (Mark Ruffalo) Rhodes’ attempts to find closure in the untimely death of his magician father back in 1984.
Reprising his role as the Horsemen’s nemesis, Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman) continues his Machiavellian tricks from the confines of a jail while the Horsemen are now the targets of the FBI not to speak of Mabry’s malevolence. What ensues thereafter is a wild goose chase involving lies, deception, extravagant CGI magic tricks and flashy action. All in all, not a bad way to enjoy a night out at the multiplex.