Now You See Me is a spectacular caper in which a group of magicians stage elaborate heists while performing on a grand stage, showering their audiences with the stolen goods. Called ‘The Four Horsemen’, these masters of sleight of hand and misdirection are a modern band of Merry Men, stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. They serve an anonymous and mysterious benefactor who brought them together to enact a meticulously orchestrated three-stage plan – but to what end? Figuring out the motivations and identity of this veritable Robin Hood is a key source of intrigue, but not nearly as fun as attempting to figure out the mystery of each new trick as it unfolds.
Featuring a strong ensemble, with a great core group of Horsemen played by Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher and Dave Franco, Now You See Me surprises and entertains. Much of the film follows FBI Agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo; The Avengers), as he attempts to track the elusive Four Horsemen. Constantly two steps behind however; he enlists the aid of Thaddeus (Morgan Freeman), an ex-magician who specialises in exposing the secrets of magic. On the opposite side of the fence is the Horsemen’s sponsor, Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine). Caine’s appearance here recalls Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige. But where The Prestige focusses on the science of magic and deep characterisation, Now You See Me is much more of a popcorn action movie experience. It’s the Ocean’s Eleven of magical heists.
And that’s certainly no bad thing! Now You See Me just might be director Louis Leterrier’s (The Incredible Hulk, The Transporter) best film. It’s slick, stylish and elegantly put together with a bright, amenable look that’s complemented by a terrific score by Iron Man 3 composer Brian Tyler. If you look closely you might start questioning the plausibility of it all but that goes against the point – right at the beginning Jesse Eisenberg’s street magician tells us ‘the closer you look, the less you see’. This is of course referring to the fact that the real magic in any good trick is what you don’t see but it’s also the kind of mindset that benefits viewing the movie. Sit back, relax and have a good time!
Having said that, and were I to be in a critical mood, there are a couple of points worth addressing. There’s an underdeveloped love interest subplot for Agent Rhodes in Interpol Agent Alma Dray (Mélanie Laurent). The plot points leading up to the eventual passionate kiss are there but they’re not developed and are mainly just breadcrumbs to the cliché conclusion. The fault is that it doesn’t feel earned – a complaint which could also be said of the final reveal. It’s not so much that it’s arbitrary, which it isn’t, rather it’s just that it lacks the wow factor that’ll blow your mind. In any case, Now You See Me still has plenty thrills. It’s smarter than the average bear, and an original piece of work to boot! Hopefully they get around to making a sequel which builds on the foundations of the first. Title it Now You Don’t and it’s as good as gold!
A slick caper about a bunch of magicians who perform amazing heists. Smart, fresh and exciting.