Suitably enough, Now You See Me knows how to handle an audience that’s skeptical to its tricks. But the production has to admit, when you pitch “bank robbing magicians”, it’s hard for audiences not to hide an eye roll.
Director Louis Leterrier, however, pulls off a movie that knows how to disarm movie goers of cynicism and delight us with boxes full of double crosses and twists. Unlock one of the hidden compartments in those boxes, and you’ll find more surprises.
It’s easy to like Now You See Me because of how it’s story and cast are able to attract movie goers with intriguing cat-and-mouse suspenses in a modern day Robin Hood form.
The cat is Mark Ruffalo playing Dylan Rhodes, an FBI agent with a short temper and an unwillingness to let the crooks get the better of their audience. The mice are made up of Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, and a Zombieland reunion between Woody Harrelson and Jessie Eisenberg. The sharp tongued criminals named “The Four Horsemen” bond after being brought together by a mysterious source to put their magic towards a mega operation.
Now You See Me also serves as a reunion for Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman – who have made appearances in many Christopher Nolan pictures including The Prestige. Caine is the big wig who sponsors the team and is prominently put to use during the second act of the Horsemen’s road show. Freeman is a magic debunker who is usually brought in during the movie to laugh at any ineptness being displayed by the FBI and to explain “what really happened” during the Horsemen’s charade.
Even though the film throws non-stop curveballs, it never feels as if Leterrier or his script go too far. Now You See Me pulls off big moves in its story, but is able to back up the surprises sufficiently. An average viewer could pin some of these reveals as being too ludicrous or ridiculous, but then they’d be applying too much thought into a film that is simply asking you to sit back, relax, and be entertained for two hours.
Leterrier’s thriller has a Jerry Bruckheimer gloss to some of these high end, explosive action scenes – even though Bruckheimer had nothing to do with the production. But, it’s these fiery swooping scenes that remind us that Now You See Me is out to be a big Summer blockbuster. When really, the film works at its best when it’s being kept at a low level.
One of the biggest thrills happens at the beginning when Eisenberg performs a sleight of hand card trick. The scene features minimal CGI and hardly any bells or whistles, proving that sometimes the best results can come out of something that isn’t showy or flashy.
Now You See Me is not as dopey as you may think it is after listening to the “bank robbing magicians” synopsis. It’s actually a very agile and crafty take on heist films. But most importantly, it’s a hell of a lot of fun.