Review: Now You See Me (2013)

Now You See Me (dir. Louis Leterrier, 2013) – A gang of illusionists pulls off an audacious bank heist and keeps the police close on their heels.

Verdict

Pure, mindless entertainment. The closer you look, the less you will like it.

2/5
Review

Despite fading enchantment in digital movie magic, Now You See Me opens with not one but four tired familiar tricks illusions. A hooded mastermind blazes the trail and unites the separate acts to commit the most gutsy heist in magic circle history – a shower of cash from a Parisian bank right into the hands of their Vegas audience.

This introduction passes in no time flat, setting the pace for the rest of the racing ploy. Leading the troupe are the cocky illusionist Danny Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg) and smartmouthed mentalist Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson). The Zombieland duo laces the action with a good dose of humour, timing well in their grasp.

Shoved into the background are spoon-bending con-artist Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) and ex-assistant/current-magician Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher). The writers do so much less for the pair, whose characters end up as flat as playing cards drawn from a generic deck. Caring little for who they are, the movie places its focus on the visual spectacle they manage to pull off.

Now You See Me
Photo: Summit Entertainment / Bruno Calvo

Their success naturally spells code black for the crime department set on convicting the Four Horsemen. Unlike the on-screen audiences, the FBI agent-in-charge Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) is not too enamoured with the show. He goes on an enthusiastic hunt after the magicians’ secrets, yet annoyingly keeps playing into their misdirecting hands.

Appearing in an inexplicable puff of smoke is his flimsy romantic sub-plot with his partner Alma Dray (Mélanie Laurent). Even Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman’s characters had more chemistry, when they went head-to-head in their war of words.

A great cast goes completely to waste. Multiple twists dazzle in an attempt to distract the audience, speeding through numerous flaws. But the obvious truth remains, Now You See Me is much less clever than it aspires to be.

Atlas asserts in the opener, “The closer you look, the less you see.” He wouldn’t exactly be right. The truth is if we do look a little closer, we will all feel like the smartest person in the room and be seven steps ahead of the writers. So ease on the scrutiny and get ready to defy reality. Then you just might find a little fun with some logic-deprived entertainment.

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