Overheard 2 ★★½

Rather than build on the surveillance aspect of the first film (you know, the thing that gives it its title), this one doubles down on the incomprehensible (to me at least) stock manipulations that served as the MacGuffin in the first go around. Louis Koo, Lau Ching-wan and Daniel Wu are back again (playing different characters: this is a thematic series, not a trilogy), but are this time on opposing sides of a cat and mouse game, which means we lose the most affecting part of the first movie: the camaraderie among the three leading men. Instead, they move through the plot looking profoundly sad, except when something bad happens, then they look bewildered.
All of this, as in the first film, is in service of the idea that the latest economic catastrophe was the result of manipulations by a cabal of financiers. A conspiracy theory that serves only to reinforce the power of the state and its entrenched capitalist institutions, indicting a few bad apples as Triads and leaving the rest to pillage again and again. Though it is telling that the only moral good done in the film falls outside the bounds of the increasingly observant police state's idea of legality.

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