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Abra-crap-dabra: ‘Now You See Me 2’ fails to create the illusion of quality

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Now You See Me 2

Two stars

Now You See Me 2 Mark Ruffalo, Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Lizzy Caplan. Directed by Jon M. Chu. Rated PG-13. Opens Friday citywide.

The 2013 thriller Now You See Me was not the kind of movie designed for a sequel—something increasingly rare among big Hollywood productions. The twisty and ultimately moronic thriller about a group of stage magicians called the Four Horsemen (played by Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher and Dave Franco) who pull off daring heists with their powers of illusion built to a climactic revelation and then sent its characters on their way, having accomplished their goals.

But any surprise hit must be followed up, so here is Now You See Me 2, bringing back Eisenberg, Harrelson and Franco (but not Fisher, who’s been replaced by Lizzy Caplan) and fellow original co-stars Mark Ruffalo, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine. This time around the Four Horsemen are basically just a group of thieves, hired to steal a piece of ultra-powerful tech. The plot is just as convoluted and belabored as the first time, without the added panache of the Four Horsemen’s stage productions. Instead of showmanship, NYSM2 is driven by endless exposition, over-explaining tricks that aren’t very impressive to begin with. New director Jon M. Chu adds some extra flashy camera movements and CGI flourishes, but all of his visual sleight of hand can’t distract from the movie’s core stupidity. –Josh Bell

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