In a summer of blockbusters, as it normally is, a movie quietly snuck up and took the big dogs, namely Will Smith, by surprise. “Now You See Me” is a twist on the bank robbery movie that is as fun as it is smart.
A group of four magicians, each with different skills, are brought together to perform the greatest trick of all time. Somehow manipulating space and time, they rob a bank live during their Vegas performance. This sets off a manhunt for the quartet as the government seeks to stop them before their biggest trick yet. But J. Daniel Atlas is clearly operating under the first rule of magic. Always be the smartest one in the room.
The group manage to be the smartest ones in the country as they pull off three tricks, three robberies, in three cities, that have the police spinning in circles and their audiences more than pleased with their investment.
Playing off the fascination with secret societies, the working theory the durations of the movie is that the four are working to be allowed entry into The Eye, a group dedicated to keeping the magic in magic. They are followed by Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman), who makes it his job to debunk the magic, after leaving a life of a magician behind.
The film stars Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenburg, Isla Fisher and Dave Franco as the fugitive magicians, Michael Caine as their rather ticked off financier, and Mark Ruffalo as the flustered fed on their tail. While the core four give performances well worth the smart script, it is Ruffalo who stands out, and whose character, the most fleshed out in the movie, is the center of a twist at the end of the film that left the magicians, and the audience, surprised.
I enjoyed myself up until the third act of the film, when the quasi-revenge motive behind the tricks is revealed and when an unwarranted and completely un-built upon romance pops up at the very end. The snappy script came to a stall when the screenwriter began catering to a Hollywood trend where everything is based on romance and revenge. If they had left it as a simple magic movie, the twist could have still stood solid and it still would have been a sheer fun movie to break up the time between superhero flicks. As it was, it progressed to end up as just that, with the two plot points seemingly unimportant by the end credit.
Summit Entertainment managed to produce an original film, something rare these days, in “Now You See Me.” The quick script, with all the feeling of an “Oceans” movie, good acting and fascinating effects for the tricks, makes the film worth seeing, and a safe bet for families looking for something a little more grown up than the latest animated picture.
“Now You See Me” is rated PG-13 for language, some action and sexual content.