Crafty, tricky and a deception on the audience itself. Now You See Me is the kind of summer movie I wish we had more of, a wondrous construction that is a departure from the derivative franchises and sequels. Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Woody Harrelson and Dave Franco make up the Las Vegas magic act that gets into bank heists while on-stage. Is there really a teleporter used to deploy a thief right into the vault?! No, come on, there’s a plausible explanation, right? An accomplished illusionist always makes you feel like you’ve seen the impossible, which is what these “Four Horsemen” do. Clever editing lets you see everything ultimately.
The bank was in Paris, which means an Interpol agent (Melanie Laurent) is sent over to work with an easily fooled FBI man (Mark Ruffalo). Hey, we’re about as easily fooled as him. They have been paired for romantic tension, but the movie is rather skittish about them getting hot for each other. Because there is a wariness of why they were paired to work together in the first place, they share borderline suspicions of one another.
The Vegas act moves to New Orleans, then New York, where we get all new cases of theft and subterfuge that is a surprise for the law and for their audience. Other key cast members are Michael Caine as a moneybags, and Morgan Freeman as a magic act debunker who has supposedly made his millions over the years exposing overpaid magicians. They seem surprised as audience onlookers, either they are genuinely duped or are in on it.
It would be misleading to say there is character depth in this fast-moving (if sometimes contrived) thriller, we know each character basically by their humorous quips. In this case it seems OK that we don’t get to know anybody too deep, because it places all cast members on a level playing field. We are left more uncertain about who is in on the big scheme or not. Yes, more than meets the eye. Just when you think the biggest scheme is revealed, there lies a bigger one. “Now You See Me” is only a few minutes too long, but my imagination and expectations were thoroughly played with. The Four Horsemen are self-described hustlers, and up to the end I was hustled.
116 Minutes. Rated PG-13.
MYSTERY & SUSPENSE / HEIST MOVIE / WEEKEND FAMILY MOVIE
Film Cousins: “How to Steal a Million” (1966); “The Thomas Crown Affair” (1999); “The Prestige” (2006); “The Illusionist” (2006).