Movie Review: ‘Now You See Me’

Not what it seems, in more ways than one
By Victoria Ku, Epoch Times
June 1, 2013 Updated: June 1, 2013

A good magic trick is one that keeps you guessing. Likewise, “Now You See Me” plays mind games that have you truly living the film’s motto, “The closer you look, the less you see.”

When four street magicians team up to form The Four Horsemen and pull off daring acts to perform Robin Hood-like heists, such as robbing a Paris bank and funneling millions of dollars into audiences’ bank accounts, they draw the attention of the FBI and Interpol. 

Two agents who are working the case, FBI Special Agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) and Interpol agent Alma Dray (Mélanie Laurent), are determined to catch the magicians and bring them to justice for conducting the crimes. 

Director Louis Leterrier lets the audience get close to the exhilarating action of the talented mix of supermagicians consisting of Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson), Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher), Jack Wilder (Dave Franco), and their de facto leader J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg). 

Although nobody knows the hidden agenda of their crimes, The Four Horsemen’s high-profile magic shows are all funded by Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine). 

Tired of the constant chase, only to find himself always one step behind, Rhodes seeks the help of Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman), a man famous for demystifying magic acts. 

The two come to the conclusion that the Horsemen’s heist is a carefully crafted illusion, teaching the lesson that sometimes magic is not the answer but only a distraction from the answer. This conclusion leads to the possibility that a fifth member of the Horsemen may be secretly involved. 

“Now You See Me” promises Las Vegas-sized entertainment with an abundance of Academy Award-worthy star power. Each of its cast members should tip the scale in the film’s favor. Using such familiar faces for each role has the benefit of drawing in multiple fan bases. 

However, the film falls into the same trap that other films relying on star power fall into—the lack of room for the actors to actually shine and act. It is a shame to see big players such as Caine, Freeman, Harrelson, and Ruffalo utilized in limited ways. 

While the film does deliver heart-stopping adventure, scene after scene, excitement builds only in the first half and then slaps you with the twist before it starts to unravel into a sloppy ending. 

There is never enough time for you to mull over how the magicians pull off their heists, as they soon explain how their acts were done. Nonetheless, audiences will get their fill of magic and adrenaline—without guaranteed satisfaction.

Or perhaps, that is what “Now You See Me” intends to do—make you put the pieces together yourself. 

Rating: 3/5

Director: Louis Leterrier
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Michael Caine, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Morgan Freeman, Dave Franco, Mélanie Laurent 
Running Time: 1 hour, 56 minutes
Rating: PG-13