Now You See Me review


Have there been many films where a group of magi­cians use their skills of mis­dir­ec­tion to per­form bank heists? I don’t remem­ber too many to be hon­est, if any at all. There’s prob­ably a few, I don’t doubt it. But cer­tainly none that stick in my recent memory. And cer­tainly not of the huge block­buster variety.

Now You See Me taps into this rich vein. How­ever, not all magic tricks could be con­sidered use­ful for rob­bing a bank. For instance, I’m not sure David Blaine sit­ting in a trans­par­ent box, sus­pen­ded above Lon­don for 44 days, and try­ing to hold his piss and shit in (whilst unim­pressed Lon­don­ers shout obscen­it­ies and throw eggs, saus­ages, bacon and beer cans at him), qualifies.

Nope, the magi­cians in Now You See Me are more your David Cop­per­fieldtype. There’s four of them. The ginger girl from Home and Away, the bar­man from Cheers, that guy from the Face­book movie, and James Franco’s less suc­cess­ful brother.

Together, the four of them form the mighty magical team, “The Four Horse­men” (even though one of them is obvi­ously a girl). But there’s also a fifth mys­ter­i­ous horse­man, someone work­ing from the shad­ows, who brings the other four together using four call­ing cards, some flashy lights, a fog machine, and the plans for some dar­ing magical heists that will leave the world gasp­ing, and the FBI clutch­ing at straws.

It gets off to a bold start. The team’s first live trick involves tele­port­ing someone all the way from Las Vegas to the inside of a bank vault in Paris, in front of a live stu­dio audi­ence. It has the clas­sic “How the hell did they do that?” feel of some of the world’s most auda­cious tricks. Luck­ily, it does get explained, but not straight away. The task of puzz­ling it out falls to FBI agent, Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruf­falo) and sexy Inter­pol agent, Alma Dray (Melanie Laurent).

But is every­one as they seem? Who exactly is the fifth horse­man? Per­haps to the film’s det­ri­ment, the film switches focus away from the four magi­cians — and onto the FBI team try­ing to catch them — for a large chunk of the movie. The magi­cians aren’t explored in any great depth, but I sup­pose this helps main­tain an air of mys­tery, of the sort that the best real world trick­sters strive for. I just feel The Four Horse­men were a bit too enig­matic, only appear­ing now and again to give the FBI someone to chase.

Admit­tedly, the chases are pretty excit­ing. Louis Leter­rier dir­ects the action well, keep­ing it fast, but never con­fus­ing. Although, he does have a tend­ency to get car­ried away by hav­ing someone stand still, with the cam­era sweep­ing around them in a full 360, per­haps once too often.

The film fal­ters in the third act, with the final trick not seem­ing like much of a trick at all: the huge, flashy build up mak­ing it feel a bit anti-climatic. By this point though, it’s less about the tricks and more about what the twist is going to be. It’s a big one, that might have you ques­tion­ing every massive plot hole that opens up because of it. I think though, that the film devel­ops just the right amount of good will before the reveal, that it doesn’t really mat­ter too much.

I enjoyed it a lot. It’s a great way to pass the time. It’s fun, loud, flashy, and dumb, but also a bit for­get­table. It doesn’t quite hit the heights that it could have. But it’s still bet­ter than watch­ing David Blaine try­ing not to shit in a box.