** stars (out of four)
2013’s Now You See Me was a reasonably diverting caper film about a group of magicians who act as modern-day Robin Hoods. Did it need a sequel? No, but it made money, so Now You See Me 2 arrives in theaters. Like many sequels, it feels a bit reheated.
The magicians (Mark Ruffalo, Jesse Eisenberg, Dave Franco, Woody Harrelson and Lizzy Caplan subbing for the original’s Isla Fisher) are blackmailed by a sleazy tech millionaire (Daniel Radcliffe) and their former magic debunker nemesis (Morgan Freeman) into another heist.
This might have worked better as a standalone sequel, a la the Mission Impossible films. However, the film tries to continue the storyline of the first one. It feels like they should have moved on to another self-contained plot. The attempts to add on to the first story makes this version seem muddled and convoluted. And at 129 minutes, it overstays its welcome.
There are a few bright spots. The leads are appealing, as they were in the original, and there is a nifty scene about midway through involving a game of keep-away with a playing card. Now You See Me 2 is no disaster, but it feels like the type of summer movie that will be completely forgotten by Labor Day.