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Now You See Me - Review

Now You See Me

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

LOUIS Leterrier has pulled a neat trick by assembling such a first rate cast to this magician heist movie. But it’s the director himself who proves to be the joker in the pack for the way in which he mis-handles the subsequent movie.

Taken at face value, Now You See Me should have been a lot of fun with some cleverness up its sleeve. But that’s just an illusion. This is very much a film that seeks to compensate for its many weaknesses by dazzling the audience into thinking there’s more to it than there is.

When four magicians (card master and illusionist Jesse Eisenberg, escapologist Isla Fisher, mind reader Woody Harrelson and young upstart Dave Franco) are brought together by a mystery man to combine large scale magic shows with bank robberies they quickly find the FBI (led by Mark Ruffalo) and Interpol (Melanie Laurent) in hot pursuit.

But the thieves regularly bamboozle the chasing pack, which also extends to a sceptical TV pundit (Morgan Freeman) and a billionaire benefactor (Michael Caine).

To be fair, Leterrier’s film starts well enough with the mystery surrounding the ‘how’ of the initial heist providing plenty of intrigue. The cast, too, display plenty of charisma during the set-up to suggest they’ll be fun to learn more about.

But the longer the film lasts the less satisfied viewers may become. Leterrier’s breakneck pacing and endless sleight of hand eventually becomes tiresome, particularly once the film relies increasingly on contrivance and suspension of disbelief rather than anything genuinely innovative or ingenious.

The director also loses sight of the majority of his characters along the way. So, while the best heist movies give the main villains at least equal screen-time (think Point Break, Inside Man, Heat, etc), Now You See Me keeps them in the background for long periods and never allows for any character building or group tensions to be explored.

Likewise, Caine’s businessman is too easily discarded, as is Laurent’s fellow cop, which means there are a lot of really good actors occupying roles that amount to little more than window-dressing. The result leaves you feeling under-nourished.

A last act twist that’s both underwhelming and preposterous merely makes the time and mental energy spent in arriving at it feel like a complete waste of time. In the final analysis, there’s no escaping the feeling that Now You See Me is a desperately disappointing movie.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 115mins
UK Release Date: July 3, 2013