Four magicians are given cards telling them to go to a particular location. A year later they are known as ‘The Four Horsemen’ and are holding a spectacular performance funded by a wealthy businessman (Michael Caine). During this performance the foursome pull of one hell of a trick: robbing a bank. Not just any bank, but one located in France. Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) of the FBI and Alma Vargas (Mélanie Laurent) of Interpol are put on the case.
If you’ve seen the trailer for this film then you may be enticed at the prospect of seeing a smart, entertaining film that keeps you guessing. Don’t be fooled. The film’s tagline is ‘the closer you look, the less you see’ – the irony is too much. Now You See Me certainly appears to have all the right cards to pull off a great act. Alas, as the film plods along you can see every trick in the book unraveling faster than you can say, “Abrakadabra”.
Let’s start with The Four Horsemen; Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher and Dave Franco. These are great actors in their own right, but they are wasted in characters so poorly written that you’re never given a chance to connect – or worse, care. We’re supposed to be following what happens to these four magicians, but leaving us out of the loop in key moments isn’t going to help.
The assumption is that the film wants to keep the viewer guessing. If you find yourself wondering what’s going on, it isn’t the screenplay’s “genius”, it’s the poorly constructed plot-line that leaves gaping holes while smugly attempting to distract you with a poor attempt at misdirection. There’s a collision of interesting ideas; none satisfactorily developed.
Morgan Freeman is mostly there to explain how these four magicians really performed some of the elaborate magic tricks. Laughably, his “explanations” end up inviting more questions and doubts then you would have had previously. As the film’s ending approaches, you know that there’s going to be a big reveal or twist. There are “twists”, but these are more of the eye-rolling variety. Without spoiling too much, there’s a mystical element in the film that is truly laughable.
It’s not all bad. Ruffalo and Laurent both put in good performances and the film has one or two exciting sequences. A nonsensical car chase, for example.
Overall, Now You See Me feels like a wasted opportunity. It isn’t horrible, but there’s just nothing really good to lift this above mediocrity. At first you see the talent, then you don’t. Voilà.
THE REEL SCORE: 4/10