So I had a choice of overlapping screenings: After Earth (a sci-fi adventure with the father-son team of Will and Jaden Smith) or Now You See Me, a heist movie involving a quartet of illusionists. I chose the latter. That was probably a wise choice given the less than stellar buzz I’m hearing about Earth. But Now You See Me isn’t all that great either, despite having a few good tricks up its sleeve. Overall, it’s a decent movie for anyone in the mood for a moderately entertaining mind-bender with a solid cast. Or, if you’re a fan of magic and illusion and need to get The Incredible Burt Wonderstone out of your head. If Wonderstone had gone down a somewhat dark and twisty path, this is where it might have led.
Here’s the gist: four street-smart illusionists are brought together to form a magic act called “The Four Horsemen.” In the midst of their performances, they pull off a series of daring heists against corrupt businesses and share the ill-gotten gains with the audience. However well intentioned, their antics don’t sit well with the law. A cat and mouse game ensues – with the FBI and Interpol always seemingly one step behind the savvy tricksters.
“The Four Horsemen” are played by Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher and Dave Franco (who looks so much like his brother James that it’s almost a distraction). Mark Ruffalo (one of my favorite scruffy ‘every man’ actors) plays the FBI agent on their tail, and he’s accompanied by a desk-jockey from Interpol (played by Mélanie Laurent).
Veteran actors Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine also put in appearances, but their characters aren’t all that well developed. Sadly, I’ve grown a bit weary of Freeman in recent months (Oblivion, Olympus Has Fallen). His roles are starting to feel the same – even when they shouldn’t.
Now You See Me doesn’t rise to the level of an Oceans as a heist movie or The Prestige for illusionist flare, but it does manage to hold a few secrets close to the vest and take a few unpredictable turns. It’s just missing that key ingredient that makes a movie stick with you after you leave the theater… that intangible thing known as true movie magic.