Everyone continues to be fascinated by the art of illusion. What we witness isn’t necessarily the truth with the performer’s sleight of hand conjuring falsehoods. The illusionary arts have dazzled for centuries with Now You See Me using it as its base. Having a usually fine ensemble and Ocean’s 11-style trickery, it’s a reasonably entertaining rummage in how a group of illusionists perform the ultimate con.
While investigating a series of bank heists, FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) discovers ‘The Four Horsemen’, a popular magic act with their stage-feats climaxing with money sprayed over the audience. Suspicious of how they obtained it, Rhodes investigates. His trail leads to their mysterious sponsor Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine). Sifting fact from fiction becomes an arduous task with their mystical skills the magician’s best defence.
Now You See Me conjures a mixed bag of tricks. Whilst superficially engaging, like the on-stage ruses its characters perform, its plot has a hallow façade. Spectacle-driven with scant characterisation, it’s difficult becoming involved in the often-confusing story. Now You See Me is overly long with little depth although the choreography involved in the magic shows is well done.
There’s a sense director Louis Leterrier had scant faith in the screenplay even though he handles the action well. The way he oversees the extended chase/fight sequences is admirable although he fails to provide anything memorable. The actors do what they can with the thin material and deserved better. The resolution is far-fetched even for a movie like this and it’s best to view it with a pinch of salt.
Now You See Me never really delivers what it promises. Guessing how things progress is initially fun although the muddled script disintegrates as fast as the proverbial rabbit is taken out of the hat.
Reviewed by Patrick Moore
Rating out of 10: 5