Four street magicians answer a mysterious summons and within a year have been transformed into The Four Horsemen, a big, new glitzy Vegas act that promises to rob a bank in France while standing on the stage. As in all works of illusion, nothing is really what it seems. But in the film Now You See Me, the talented cast pulls off this scam in a very enjoyable manner. The Four Horsemen are played by Jesse Eisenberg, Dave Franco… yes, James Franco’s younger brother, Isla Fisher, and Lebanon’s own Woody Harrelson, in what is probably his best performance since The People vs. Larry Flynt. Working for the law we have Mark Ruffalo as an FBI agent, who is saddled with a novice partner from Interpol, played by Melanie Laurent who gained worldwide attention in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. And naturally there has to be a couple of elder statesmen to follow the action, comment on and drop clues to what’s going on. Or so we think. Those roles fall to hard-working old pros Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman.
On first viewing, it may seem as if Now You See Me is like Oceans 11 as directed by David Copperfield. But there’s just as much effort put into distracting the viewers of this flashy film so as to keep you from coming to any logical conclusion as to why all this is happening and who is behind the scheme. As directed by Louis Leterrier, who did the first two Transporter films, he keeps the visuals full of razzle-dazzle to distract you while something else may be going on, which is exactly what magicians or illusionists, if you will, count on to be successful. Too bad he didn’t use the “less is more” theory, as Now You See Me, which runs five minutes short of two hours, does seem draggy in places, and about twenty minutes too long.
Fortunately, there’s enough to keep your eye and mind engaged, and some of the tricks of The Four Horsemen do come with an element of surprise. In addition to the terrific cast, the impressive visuals, and a nice score by Brian Tyler, a composer who seems to specialize in fast-paced action films, to accompany the events being seen on screen. As the plot continues to be revealed, I found myself thinking more than once “oh, yeah…how did I miss that,” or “wow…that was a complete surprise.”
In a movie summer that is jam-packed with films that have a number attached to the title, Now You See Me is both different and dazzling enough to engage your mind and not leave you feeling that you have a bad case of “been there, done that sequelitis” an affliction that is showing up in movie theatres way too much these days.
The PG-13 rated Now You See Me is currently distracting audiences just about everywhere.