Movie Review - Now You See Me

Four magicians become the focus of a worldwide investigation when one night while performing in Las Vegas, they manage to pull off a bank robbery in Paris. Two agents are put on the case. One is from the United States and the other is from France. At the same time, a man who is following the magicians is trying to expose how they do their magic and another man is trying to be their benefactor.

Morgan Freeman plays Thaddeus Bradley, the man trying to expose the magicians. He has his own TV series and movies where he breaks down the tricks or illusions. Michael Caine plays Arthur Tresler, the man trying to be the benefactor. He's greedy and selfish. It was great to see Freeman and Caine get a scene together where they get to play a verbal tug-of-war. Ultimately, Caine's role isn't that substantial, but his mere presence invokes the memory of The Prestige (2006), a much better film about rival magicians.

This film about these four magicians who pull off this grand heist is no where near as good. It's not interesting or intriguing at all. It's most likely due to the fact we get no sense of the relationship between the four magicians. The only time the screenplay even comes close is when the four magicians are on stage only a couple of times and even then it often feels like they're reading from a script. There's no sense of who these people are, their histories, or why they do the particular things they do.

Because the movie is more concerned with the American agent chasing them named Dylan Rhodes, played by Mark Ruffalo, character development for the four magicians is really, really short-changed. In fact, it's non-existent. All I know is that if this were The Avengers (2012), of which Ruffalo played a part, Woody Harrelson would be playing Tony Stark. Harrelson is doing a reasonable Robert Downey, Jr.-impression. Jesse Eisenberg is doing his same schtick from The Social Network (2010), which apparently is Eisenberg's schtick. The other two magicians are played by Isla Fisher and Dave Franco. I couldn't tell you their character names because the movie thinks so little of them as to not make their names even matter.

Director Louis Leterrier seems to be having fun. As his film jumps from city to city, like from Las Vegas to New Orleans, Leterrier makes use of those towns only on a superficial level. The one true exception is when the film lands in New York, and Leterrier manages a pretty impressive car chase through the streets of Manhattan. It's kicked off with a well-choreographed fight scene between Dave Franco and Mark Ruffalo, but that's really the movie's only thrills.

The so-called romance between Ruffalo's federal agent and the other agent felt so false and unlikely. The kiss between them did nothing for me, as did the majority of this film. Wow! I think this movie was actually really bad.

One Star out of Five.
Rated PG-13 for language, some action and sexual content.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 55 mins.


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