Now You See Me (2013)
Directed by Louis Leterrier
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, Melanie Laurent, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine
Movies about magicians can be great (The Prestige), good (The Illusionist), or bad (The Incredible Burt Wonderstone). Now You See Me falls in-between these movies but for different reasons. First, the film doesn’t have an identity. Second, many events that happen aren’t believable and instead are extremely coincidental. Third, it sure is a lot of fun. Now you make your assessment whether you want to see it or not.
Boasting an impressive cast for a summer blockbuster, we’re acquainted to a handful of street magicians in the opening scene. Soon they’re contacted and a year later they’re performing together under the name The Horsemen. Daniel Atlas (Eisenberg) is the leader of the four and is arrogant but no doubt talented with his sleight of hand tricks. Merrit McKinney (Harrelson) is a mentalist that has the ability to read people as well as hypnotise them. Rounding out the Horsemen are Henley Reeves (Fisher), the flashy escape artist, and Jack Wilder (Franco) the quick and savvy youngster.
During the Las Vegas performance, The Four Horsemen are suspected of stealing $3 million from a bank in Paris, but it’s just supposed to be a magic trick, right? In comes more important players to the winding plot that loses its focus halfway into the film. Dylan Rhodes (Ruffalo) is the FBI detective put onto the case with the help from Alma Dray (Laurent), an Interpol agent. Then there’s Thaddeus Bradley (Freeman), an ex-magician who is known for his TV specials debunking magic tricks. Everyone has an important role in the movie, and while it might present some surprises along the way, it’s never as engaging as it believes to be.
There are problems here and one of them is the size of the cast. There are four magicians, two detectives on the case, one ex-magician meddling with the cops, a wealthy sponsor to the Horsemen, and a story about a magician who died performing a dangerous trick. Not one of these talented actors ever gets to break free from his or her stereotype. They’re all one-dimensional characters in this plot-heavy movie… which isn’t always a bad thing but when the plot is full of impossible leaps of faith (one of the many themes Now You See Me attempts to throw in), you simply just stop believing altogether.
But despite its problems, Now You See Me is a lot of fun to watch. The visuals that make up the magical illusions are very good and the actors are able to sell the flashiness very well. Only for a few dull moments, the film moves at a very brisk pace. It’s no surprise that it was a surprise hit during the summer, but this still doesn’t hide the fact that unless you suspend your expectations, Now You See Me is nothing more than a magic trick that you’ve seen before.