We’ve had numerous magician / magic trick movies, and while Now You See Me doesn’t try to reinvent the concept, it is certainly a flashy, entertaining, easily consumable affair.
Four magicians, an escape artist, mentalist, card trickster and a slight-of-hand street magician, are all brought together to perform a dazzling show at Las Vegas. Who brought them together is a mystery, but when the show’s climax has a bank in France robbed through a live act of teleportation, the FBI and Interpol are called in to investigate.
Our four tricksters are probably the best element of the movie. Their motivations are unclear and their stage presence is likeable and fun, spearheaded by Woody Harrelson and a surprisingly unique performance by Jesse Eisenberg. Everyone’s favourite Hulk Mark Ruffalo is the FBI investigator hot on their heels, along with his Interpol not-romantic-interest-but-really-is Alma Drey. Admittedly, I found the two of them the least compelling of the cast, their scenes felt a little flat.
Adding further weight to the cast, Michael Cane is one of the show’s benefactors, while Morgan Freeman is a man who profits from revealing the secrets of magicians.
It is a fast film, playing out more like an all out action thriller than say… The Prestige. We have a cat and mouse story with dozens of twists and turns most of which you should catch moments before their reveal. The film’s pacing is consistent, and the visuals pop with a lot of flashy lighting and modern settings, glamorous and glitzy, making it very easy and pleasing to watch.
It is however… a bit silly. Some of the trickery involved has a little too much suspension of disbelief, while some of it is so blatant than you will want to bash the FBI’s collective heads together for not getting it. The characters aren’t that fleshed out either, we only know bits and pieces about everyone… a decision purposefully made to keep the film’s insane level of ambiguity going strong.
The ongoing revelations to the tricks felt a little bit like the first Sherlock Holmes film’s answer to deductive reasoning, going like this: How did they do that?? Answer: They are magicians, they just knew it would go that way. See aforementioned “suspension of disbelief”.
However, the actors are clearly having a lot of fun here, and the glossy easy-going eye candy cannot be ignored. I had fun watching this; it is simple but effective.