If you fell for the 2013 original — and surprisingly, many did — then Now You See Me 2 has got your number. For the rest of us, however, this longer, louder sequel adds up to what one character calls “a sack of nada.” Returning are the Horseman, magicians played by the talented likes of Jesse Eisenberg, Dave Franco and comic MVP Woody Harrelson, who gets to swan around as his own evil twin. The Horsemen are renegade Robin Hoods, using tricks to expose corporate baddies to benefit you, me and other poor suckers. (Isla Fisher, the fourth Horsemen, decided to sit the sequel out. Wise woman.)
Good sport Lizzy Caplan steps in as Lula, the babe who can pull the rug out from under the guys. She once pulled a hat out of a rabbit, such is the level of clever in the script by Ed Solomon. The Horsemen are zapped to Macao to take on their — ta-da — biggest case, a nasty deed of malfeasance that involves Daniel Radcliffe as an elfin baddie hellbent on stealing a computer chip that can control all other computer chips. Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman return in roles considerably below their pay grade. And Mark Ruffalo runs himself ragged as the F.B.I. agent who’s really working for the Horsemen.
Still with me? No worries. There won’t be a test. No one could pass it. Director Jon M. Chu, in for the original’s Louis Leterrier, made his bones staging Step Up movies and he choreographs the magic with welcome flair. But the movie itself gets away from him, piling on one preposterous twist after another until you wish the Horsemen would make you disappear. It’s fun to be fooled. But Now You See Me 2 leaves viewers feeling scammed. There’s a difference.