Thursday, October 18 , 2018, 4:37 pm | Fair 76º

 
 
 
 

Cinema in Focus: ‘Now You See Me 2’

3 Stars — Thought-provoking

It was difficult to imagine how the sequel to Now You See Me could be as intricate and inventive as the first. Yet it is — and in several rather satisfying ways it even surpasses the first film.

Directing Now You See Me 2 is Jon M. Chu, who also is going to direct the next chapter in the series.

The ensemble cast is basically intact, with the substitution of Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher) with Lula (Lizzy Caplan) as one of the “Four Horsemen.”

The other three magicians are J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), Merrit McKinney (Woody Harrelson) and Jack Wilder (Dave Franco).

As revealed in the first film, the leader of the Horsemen is Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo), and the primary story once more revolves around Rhodes and his conflicted relationship to magic that began years before the action of the film.

Also central to the ongoing tale is Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman). Bradley is the skeptic who suggests that all magic is simple misdirection and a series of manipulative set-ups.

The villain in the tale continues to be the greedy, unethical Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine). The extremely wealthy owner of an insurance company, Tressler is bankrupt by the Horsemen in the first film as they righted the wrongs he had done to his clients.

Committed to vengeance, his cause is picked up by his illegitimate son, Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe), whose sociopathic actions ensnare the Horsemen into a lethal plan to kill Rhodes.

We won’t spoil how all of this works out or how the film resolves into a very satisfying explanation while hinting at larger powers and forces at work.

The morality of the film continues to be that of a “Robin Hood” intention of holding the greedy accountable while assisting those the wealthy are or are attempting to harm.

This is spelled out directly by the introduction of deputy director Natalie Austin (Sanaa Lathan) into the tale. The FBI agent who heard Rhodes describe his long view of justice when she was a student and had become an agent in order to become like him.

This places the Horsemen clearly in the cause of justice and makes this morality tale satisfying at the ethical as well as the entertainment level.

If the sequel is any indication, we look forward to the next chapter in this engaging tale.

Discussion

» Do you believe there is a meta-organization like The Eye that is watching over human events, or do you believe this sense that we are being watched over comes from a spiritual reality?

» When Austin comes face-to-face with her hero, she goes through a season of doubt. Why do you think her faith returned in the end? How fragile or resilient is faith?

» The unity of the team of Four Horsemen now sets the stage for their continuing fight for justice. How do you fight for justice in your own life?

— Cinema in Focus is a social and spiritual movie commentary. Hal Conklin is a former mayor of Santa Barbara and Denny Wayman is pastor of Free Methodist Church, 1435 Cliff Drive. For more reviews, visit www.cinemainfocus.com, or follow them on Twitter: @CinemaInFocus. The opinions expressed are their own.

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