Reviewed by Kevin Finnerty
“Ladies and Gentleman, for our final magic trick we are going to rob a bank,” announce Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg) and Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher) in the crime/mystery/thriller Now You See Me, opening in theaters on May 31, 2013. Henley and Daniel are half of “The Four Horseman,” an illusionist team performing in Las Vegas who for the finale of their act actually rob banks and give the loot to the members in the audience.
After their first successful heist, The Four Horseman become the focus of a major investigation by the FBI led by special agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo). Dylan’s joined by Interpol agent Alma Dray (Melanie Laurent) due to the fact the bank that was actually robbed was in located in Paris. Not being able and willing to believe in magic and not having any real evidence to tie the members of The Four Horseman to the crime, the authorities have to let them go and struggle to keep them under surveillance.
While the FBI search for clues and try to figure out where The Four Horseman will perform their next caper, a magician exposer, Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman), who has been following the illusionist team warns agent Rhodes that the closer he looks the less he and his team actually see. Bradley seems to enjoy the fact that no matter how hard agent Rhodes and Dray try, they always seem to be at least a few steps behind The Four Horseman.
Slick, glitzy and at times witty, Now You See Me is an entertaining yet shallow crime mystery that benefits from its talented cast. Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher and Woody Harrelson are all effective as the illusionists who seem to be working and building up to some master magic trick that’s purpose is unclear (to both the movie-going audience and the characters themselves) as to why they are doing it and who is the real head magician pulling their strings. Their performances are solid but nothing new…Eisenberg is once again playing a character who’s control-obsessed, selfish and arrogant like his performance as Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network. Isla Fisher is once again playing an attractive con-woman who plays second fiddle to the men in her life, and Harrelson is…well…Harrelson.
The one stand out performance in the film is from Mark Ruffalo as the smart-aleck, frustrated and determined FBI agent who seems to have zero interest in magic and all its trappings and only wants to catch the modern day Robin Hood magicians in the act. It’s the only character who’s given any real layers in the script, and Ruffalo is perfect in the role showing just the right amount of aggravation and awe as he keeps getting bested by the illegal illusionists.
It’s unfortunate that a little more than halfway through Now You See Me the script and plot gets way too contrived, implausible and ridiculous. Plus, the audience in the theatre is sure to figure out who the true mastermind behind the magic and heists is long before it’s revealed up on the big screen. That is, if they’ve been paying attention.
Flashy in style and presentation, Now You See Me is a fun yet shallow crime caper film which will never have the audience rooting for any of the characters and most likely forgetting they even watched the film after a few weeks.
Now You See Me is rated PG‐13 for language, some action and sexual content.
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