Rating: 3 stars out of 5
There is an oft-repeated line that French actress Melanie Laurent keeps saying in ‘Now You See Me’ and that is to “take a leap of faith”.
Going to the movies is largely an exercise in faith, what more watching a movie about magic.
Part heist caper and part magic act, director Louis Letterier’s latest film ‘Now You See Me’ requires you to suspend all belief so that you can truly enjoy what lies up his sleeve.
The film follows four magicians who are recruited by a mysterious benefactor to team up and perform three of the biggest tricks of their lives.
The quartet is made up of illusionist J Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), escape artist Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher), mentalist Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson) and street magician/sleight-of-hand artist Jack Wilder (Dave Franco).
Together they form "The Four Horsemen", who quickly become Las Vegas' hottest act after they magically shower €3 million from a Parisian bank on their audience.
Their antics attract the attention of FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) and Laurent’s Alma Dray who is assigned to help him by Interpol, when the Parisian bank turns up €3 million short.
Along for the ride is professsional magic mythbuster Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman) who has made a career in exposing magic’s most-guarded secrets, as well as the foursome’s millionaire industrialist backer played by Michael Caine.
Like all Vegas acts, ‘Now You See Me’ is all flash with very little substance. The story, directed by Leterrier (of ‘Clash of The Titans’ and ‘The Transporter’ fame) just can’t lift off the ground.
Leterrier keeps the movie moving at a breakneck pace wth stunt after stunt, enough to keep you distracted from a story written by Ed Solomon, Boaz Yakin and Edward Ricourt that defies logic and springs up convoluted twists. Yes, that’s where that leap of faith comes in.
Still, much of the magical razzle-dazzle on stage are quite a sight to behold.
As de-facto leader of The Four Horsemen, Eisenberg takes his ‘The Social Network’ smartass smugness several degrees up, but the feeling is that his character’s brash and fast-talking persona will grate on you and leave you exasperated at times.
The scenestealer of the gang is Harrelson’s tricky hypnotist, whose laugh-out-loud lines make him the most likeable character, while Franco and Fisher are relegated to supporting roles.
Another noteworthy performance is by Ruffalo, whose intense and everyman character (something that’s becoming a trademark for him) is instantly likeable. Watch for the hilarious scene when a revelation dawns on him while chasing the Horsemen.
If we have to give props to Letterier and team , it would be that they have the guts to conjure up an original story that is non-franchise in the middle of the busy US summer blockbuster season. Yes, smoke and mirrors are definitely in supply here, but the result is something that is still decent popcorn entertainment.