Written by Ed Solomon, Boaz Yakin and Edward Ricourt
Directed by Louis Leterrier
Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Mark Ruffalo and Melanie Laurent
Dylan Rhodes: Wait, did you say magicians?
They say the trick to magic is misdirection. Distract the audience with something flashy over there so they don’t see the nuts and bolts of the trick happening over here. This must have been the very same logic that was applied to NOW YOU SEE ME when they decided to cast it with a plethora of easily recognizable faces. The logic being that if I’m awed by seeing Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Mark Ruffalo, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, Common and Melanie Laurent on screen all at the same time, I couldn’t possibly see how thin and implausible the film I’m watching is. And just in case you’re savvy enough to see past that bunch of actors, why not throw in a couple of pedigreed thespians like Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine into the mix? Between those two, all the younger faces and some non-stop special effects, maybe people will think they’re watching a Christopher Nolan picture. Alas, no. You’re actually watching a movie from the director of the CLASH OF THE TITANS reboot instead.
The following is what director, Louis Leterrier, is trying to draw your attention away from. Four individual magicians (Eisenberg, Harrelson, Fisher and Franco), all of which have various levels of success and talent, are mysteriously called to an abandoned apartment in New York City, all believing they are being summoned by one of the greatest magicians of all time. A plan is revealed to them there and they all gladly accept to partake in hopes that their careers will be boosted by the inevitable attention they will get. And so, the Four Horseman, which is what they call themselves, are born. They then embark on a series of magic shows that defy all expectation and capture the world’s attention because their particular brand of trickery also involves an element of thievery. Of course, whatever they steal, they give back to their public so they are naturally adored. And because their thefts are clouded by smoke and mirrors, the authorities (Ruffalo and Laurent), from the FBI to interpol, cannot figure out how they are doing any of it or what they will do next.
We are essentially instructed at the onset of NOW YOU SEE ME to not think too hard about what we’re about to see. Apparently, looking too closely at an elaborate illusion leads to seeing it less clearly. If you defy this advice though, what you do end up seeing is that Leterrier, along with his merry band of writers, are asking you to accept a number of highly unlikely scenarios that need to add up perfectly over a rather lengthy period of time in order for the Four Horsemen’s plan to come off as intended. You might also see how none of this extensive cast is pushing themselves very far past what we all know and expect of them. (What? Eisenberg is cocky? Caine is composed and authoritative? Craziness.) If you do follow this advice, which I’m sure the filmmakers would like you to do, then NOW YOU SEE ME can be reasonably entertaining at times, but if weren’t for the movie magic backing up their actual magic, the tricks themselves would likely just fall as flat as the film itself does.