Now You See Me – 2013
Director Louis Leterrier
Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Mélanie Laurent, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, Common, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Michael Kelley, Elias Koteas
Screenplay Ed Solomon, Boaz Yakin, Edward Ricourt
Now You See Me is the kind of trick that shows you how its done while its setting you up for the next trick. Four magicians (Eisenberg, Fisher, Harrelson and Franco) picked deliberately set up a show in Vegas that nets an apparent robbery in a bank in France. This brings them to the attention of a FBI agent (Ruffalo) and a member of Interpol (Laurent). One of the witnesses to the first trick (Freeman) gives both agents a bit of a tutorial, while showing us that he has a rivalry with their benefactor (Caine). All of this seems pretty straight up, until they get to the 2nd trick.
As the 4 Horsemen, the leads have an awkward chemistry that seems more like cohesive bickering except when they are on stage. Eisenberg is good for his role as the mouthpiece of the group. It requires both being smart and being a smart ass, and he has each in spades. Fisher and Harrelson have some expected moments, but its Franco’s mad escape attempt takes the card.
Ruffalo plays the dutiful lunkhead FBI agent, with a partner who may or may not be in on it. He learns fast enough to always be one step behind, with his boss always chewing his ass. Meanwhile, we have people literally being played like fiddles and the looming specter of a comedian named Shrike who’s been missing for nearly 20 years. I wonder if he enters into the ending?
So much flash and pomp, and the circumstance is what you make of it. The conclusion could be reached early in the film, but the actors you’ve seen playing the same roles for years may be the blindness that keeps you from understanding what you are headed towards.
Leterrier is a director who knows how to entertain an audience. The viewer is kept at arm’s length, seeing what they need to see. What they do with the information depends on the willing suspension of each’s beliefs. The magicians hardly seem like characters, more like distractions. And that is the point.
Is it memorable? In some important ways, it may well be. Most people will remember there was a smile on their face, even if they can’t quite place a finger on why.
(**** out of *****)