Directed by: John M. Chu – Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, Daniel Radcliffe, Lizzy Caplan, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman
A sequel to the 2013 hit movie that dazzled audiences with it’s glossy trickery, this is actually set one year after the events of the first film. Don’t worry if you haven’t seen that though, as they give a pretty good synopsis of the events of that during the opening few minutes.
As I said it’s one year on. After garnering worldwide acclaim for their magic spectacles, which brought down crooked businessman, Arthur Tressler (Caine) the Horsemen are now in hiding awaiting their next assignment.
When they are eventually handed the task of hijacking the launch party for new software, which unbeknownst to users steals all their information, it seems straightforward enough. That is, until they themselves find their plan hijacked, and their secrets exposed.
Fleeing the scene, they inexplicably find themselves in China, where entrepreneur Walter Mabry (Radcliffe) blackmails them into completing a task for him. However, the Horsemen are nobody’s fools, and have plenty of tricks up their sleeves to escape his clutches and bring down his organisation– if they can just stop fighting amongst themselves, and utilise them in time.
This is even glossier, with flashier stunts, than the first one. Unfortunately, the stunts don’t feel as fresh or original as they did, since anyone who saw that will go to this with high expectations. The original cast still gel well together, and new addition, Caplan, seems to fit right in. Radcliffe is disappointing as Mabry though. He never really feels sinister or threatening, and it is almost as if he is just trying to channel every Bond villain he has ever seen.
Harrelson takes on a duel role (I won’t spoil it for you) but doesn’t manage a huge amount of contrast between the two, which gets confusing. However, the others give solid enough performances – especially Morgan Freeman, who is at the heart of one of the biggest twists in the tale. And there are twists aplenty here – almost too many. This makes the plot extremely complex and you do really need to focus or you will get totally lost.
This was one of my biggest bugbears. You expend so much focus on keeping track of who’s who, who is double-crossing whom, who is getting revenge on whom, that it sometimes detracts from the magic. This is a shame, as the magic is as big and bold as the last one, and it’s interesting to see how some of the tricks are accomplished.
Ireland’s own Keith Barry was responsible for training the actors for this, and even pops up in a cameo appearance (a literal blink and you’ll miss him moment – now you see him so to speak!)
Overall, this looks incredibly slick, and plot holes and complexity aside, this is very entertaining, and will engage you until the end. It just lacks some of the dazzle and surprise element of the previous offering. There is a sense that we’ve pretty much seen all of this before.
Don’t let that put you off though, as it is still a worthwhile watch, and with another sequel having already been announced, you’ll want to keep on top of the story so you know what’s going on in that.
In Cinemas Now!