Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Now You See Me | Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, Mark Ruffalo, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine | Review

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4sm The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is GOOD Judy Thorburn


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4lg The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is GOOD

Now You See Me

I love the idea of blending heists and magic in one movie.  For the premise to work, it all depends on the execution and for the most part, like magic itself, the film continually holds your attention throughout.

Director Louis Leterrier (The Incredible Hunk, Clash of the Titans) has gathered together a terrific ensemble cast that includes Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco (James' younger brother), Mark Ruffalo, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine for this fast paced thriller featuring elements of Ocean's Eleven and Robin Hood.

The original script by Ed Solomon (Men in Black), Boaz Yakin (Safe) and Edward Ricourt, follows four accomplished magicians with different skills as they pull off a series of bank heists using magic as a diversion. The story opens as Danny Atlas (Eisenberg) an arrogant, slight of hand card trickster, his former assistant, turned escape artist, Henley Reeves (Fisher); Merritt McKinney, a mentalist/hypnotist and Jack Wilder (Franco) a crafty pick pocket/safecracker are assembled together at an abandoned Manhattan apartment by a mysterious, unseen stranger to form a magic act called The Four Horseman. Fast forward a year later, having followed the instructions of their unknown benefactor, and funded by billionaire  insurance mogul Arthur Tessler (Caine),  the quartet achieve success and wind up as the headline act at MGM Grand Las Vegas.  It is there, during one of their performances that they manage to pull off a Paris bank vault heist using a hypnotized audience member as part of their trick that concludes with the $3.2 million of stolen money showering down on the amazed and excited audience.

After capturing the attention of the law, FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Ruffalo) is assigned to the case and shortly after he is teamed up with pretty, blonde French Interpol agent Alma Dray (Melanie Laurent, Inglorious Basterds). The magicians are arrested, but because the agents are unable to prove they are guilty of the crime, the clever tricksters are let go only to head to New Orleans where they have planned another elaborate heist.

Enter Thaddeus Bradley (Freeman) a former magician turned debunker that has made millions from books, DVD's and TV shows in which he exposes how magicians do their tricks. Thaddeus has been videotaping the Horsemen’s stage performances and is soon recruited to help the feds with his knowledge of the magicians' secrets. He is happy to oblige since he sees it a highly profitable venture.

What follows is a cat and mouse chase as the detective and his French partner head to New Orleans in hopes of being one step head of their prey. Of course, that isn't the case as the Four Horseman employ tactics of misdirection to mislead and throw them off course. Early on, Danny lets it be known,   “The more you think you see, the easier it is to fool you. The closer you look the less you see.  The first rule of magic is always be the smartest in the room.”

Yet, from the start, it is a mystery for both the magicians  as well as the audience as to who is the brains behind the operation, the fifth unknown horseman, that has brought the magicians together. What are the person's real reasons, or motive behind the heists? The answers are revealed at the end, which promises to be a surprise and will throw you for a loop.

Up until then, there are several red herrings to divert our attention and distract from the truth.  It is very far fetched and unrealistic to actually believe that anyone could have devised such intricate schemes that depended on many unpredictable events and circumstances to fall into place exactly as planned.

Yet, contrivances aside, unlike the recent, disappointing flop, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone that revolved around a Las Vegas magic act and literally disappeared from the big screen, Now You See, with all its smoke and mirrors, is fun to watch, entertaining and consistently keeps you on your toes.

If you are looking for some summer movie magic, Now Your See Me, does the trick.