Review: Now You See Me

Less magical than hoped

By Brigit Grant, July 7, 2013

Magic tends to divide an audience. But as one camped solidly in the “Wow, how he did that?” category, I love whatever the likes of David Copperfield or homegrown Dynamo pull out of their wizards’ bags. For, once you become an adult, magic is the only thing that sustains one’s inner child. And that’s a good reason to catch Now You See Me.

It’s not the only reason as the film, directed by Louis Leterrier, is essentially about magicians who rob big financial institutions during their act. It has a stellar ensemble cast and some impressively staged “live” tricks done without the help of CGI (or so they say). But in its attempt to be Ocean’s Eleven with hocus-pocus, it never quite captures the team spirit of that movie, which is a shame as it’s quite a team.

There’s the self-assured J Daniel Atlas, played by Jesse Eisenberg; escape artist Henley (Isla Fisher); street hypnotist Merritt (Woody Harrelson) and Jack, a safe-cracking smart-Alec portrayed by Dave Franco, brother of James.

The group come together when each receives a cryptic tarot card inviting them to a New York loft for a holographic light show organised by someone who has more than magic on their mind. Fast forward 365 days and the gang are performing nightly in Vegas as the Four Horsemen, backed by a millionaire impresario — a natural fit for Michael Caine, who knows a bit about blowing the bloody doors off to steal money. The Four Horsemen don’t need dynamite for looting as they are able to teleport a member of the audience to a vault in a Paris bank and bring back the lucre, which they distribute to the crowd.

Of course, these Robin Hood antics do not pass unnoticed by the FBI — thank goodness as that’s when the utterly gorgeous Mark Ruffalo enters the picture as agent Rhodes. The investigation story is told from his perspective when it would have been better to leave it in the hands of those holding the wands.

Last updated: 7:45pm, July 7 2013