Now You See Me

Now You See Me

***1/2

Reviewed by: Stuart Crawford

“Ensemble-cast magician heist romp” may well have been the entirety of the pitch for Now You See Me. I'd go and see that. If you wouldn't, you and I probably won't get on.

The follow-up meeting presumably went something like this: “You remember how well Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson got on in Zombieland? Let's do that again.” “See how Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman were in several Batmans? Everyone likes Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman.” “Mark Ruffalo's amazing, isn't he? Let's have him too. Also Isla Fisher and Mélanie Laurent and James Franco's wee brother. Because of reasons. Sexy reasons.” And a stern faced man in a suit pressed a button on his desk and said “spend as much money as you have to” and the room filled up with swirling banknotes like the dome at the end of The Crystal Maze. Probably.

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So Jesse Eisenberg (the cocky, precocious one), Woody Harrelson (the grizzled, elder one), James Franco's wee brother (the young, slightly naïve one) and Isla Fisher (the token girl one) are four magicians summoned by an unseen party to commit audacious, magical crimes. Mark Ruffalo is the grumpy FBI agent who can't arrest them until he's figured out their tricks. Morgan Freeman is a professional magician-debunker, but whose side is he really on? The characters are all ciphers because this is the sort of film that doesn't need to be character driven. We're shown all the pieces and then invited to follow the sleight-of-hand. It's just clever enough to keep you guessing, dropping enough small reveals to hold your interest up until the finale.

I say “up until” because everything falls a little flat towards the end, and the big reveal isn't nearly as satisfying as it ought to be in a film of this sort. The Prestige gave away its own ending in its opening shot, and then relied on distracting the audience to keep its secrets, whereas Now You See Me conceals a load of info and then spits it out in an exposition dump at the end. Poor form.

That said, it's still a perfectly enjoyable ensemble-cast magician heist romp, suffering only slightly from “young people like action, let's throw in a car chase” disease. It's just a pity to see a film with such promise fail to live up to its full potential.

Reviewed on: 04 Jul 2013
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Now You See Me packshot
A quartet of magicians turns its hand to crime.
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Director: Louis Leterrier

Writer: Ed Solomon, Boaz Yakin

Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, Mélanie Laurent, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine

Year: 2013

Runtime: 115 minutes

Country: France, US

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If you like this, try:

The Prestige