Blu-ray Review: Now You See Me 2

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Perhaps inevitably given the first film's significant box office success, summer of 2016 saw the release of Now You See Me 2. The Four Horseman returned, albeit with a slightly retooled lineup. J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson) and Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) are all back, but Lula May (Lizzy Caplan) steps in for the absent Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher). Fisher's relative understatement is missed considerably, as Caplan grates more than a bit with her try-hard take. Also returning are Mark Ruffalo as Agent Dylan Rhodes, the FBI agent who leads the Horseman, and Morgan Freeman as Thaddeus Bradley, the wizened illusionist who aims to debunk other illusionists. And if you're a Harrelson fan, you're in for a double dose: he plays a dual role this time out. Turns out Merritt has an evil twin, Chase.

Even if you liked the absurdly complicated first Now You See Me, some of the Horseman's new "tricks" may stretch your disbelief to the breaking point. This time out, high-tech bigwig Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe) is our main bad guy and he's teamed with Chase to steal a personal data-mining device. The tech was developed by Owen Case (Ben Lamb), Walter's former business partner. The plot is at least as convoluted as the first outing, and it's ultimately beside the point anyway. The fun (however much there is) lies in watching the various illusions unfold. However, more so than ever before, there's no sense of reality behind the Horseman's horseplay. The whole thing devolves into what is basically fantasy.

At over two hours, Now You See Me 2 tries viewers' patience as it becomes increasingly non-sensical. There are a number of fun(ish) set pieces, including a lengthy scene involving the flipping of a card around a clean room. But these digital-effects showcases are extremely superficial pleasures, however nimbly staged by director Jon M. Chu (the Step Up series). When literally anything is possible (halting raindrops in place as they fall, disappearing into a puddle of shallow water, etc) and doesn't need to be backed up by anything more than the flimsiest of "reveals," all dramatic tension drains away quickly. Nothing is really at stake, leaving the only remaining interest the level of mugging to which various cast members will stoop. Harrelson, in particular, becomes tiresome as he strains to differentiate Chase from Merritt. There are fleeting moments of fun sprinkled around, but this chapter labors whereas the similarly ludicrous first film was more of a light lark. 

rsz_now_you_see_me_2_bd.jpg Lionsgate's Blu-ray offers exceptional 1080p, high def imagery, especially key considering how much of Now You See Me 2 unfolds in darkness. Peter Deming's cinematography is presented in sharp detail throughout. Audio is offered in Dolby Atmos and for those not yet Atmos-capable (that includes myself), Dolby TrueHD 7.1. From Brian Tyler's score to the often overlapping dialogue, this is a spectacular-sounding Blu-ray.

Supplements includes a director's commentary by Jon M. Chu. There's also a trio of entertaining featurettes: "The Art of the Ensemble" (20 minutes) spotlights the cast, "Bringing Magic to Life" (16 minutes) deals with the art of illusion, and "You Can't Look Away" (17 minutes) deals with the real "magic" on display throughout Now You See Me 2 (i.e. the digital effects).

Now You See Me 2 Blu-ray also includes a standard DVD and Digital HD copy. Fans of lenticular images take note: the slipcase boasts a beautifully-rendered image of the Four Horseman that disappears into a flurry of playing cards when tilted.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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