Now You See Me 2
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Now You See Me 2

Sequels and magic have something in common: harder to pull them off when you’re already familiar with the set up. This aiming to please caper may not have the initial wow factor going for it, but there is still some fun in the mix.

Almost the whole roster of the original gang is back, with a few notable changes. Jesse Eisenberg, in his sleekest work yet, leads the Four Horsemen, illusionists out for world good. Woody Harrelson, in a double role, rocks that porkpie hat, along with a wackily desperate twin bother. Dave Franco, Mark Ruffalo and Morgan Freeman surround them, enabling and dismantling along the way. Ilsa Fisher has been replaced by a more than game Lizzy Caplan, who pushes her too-cool newbie just a little too much toward annoying. But Daniel Radcliffe is quite effective in his few scenes and new director Jon M. Chu brings a sense of lightness darkened the first time around.

Once again, the illusions are entertaining and, in some cases, quite cool. Even if I didn’t know quite what was going on half the time, well, I guess, to a certain extent, we’re not really supposed to, are we? There are, however, some real dead spots between the magic that even better than can be expected acting can’t disguise.

A movie that feels made for viewing on an airplane, this almost two hour ride is enough of an easy diversion to get you where you are going without much investment on your part. You watch, you smile, maybe snooze a sec and poof: you’re home.

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