Time for a new feature in which I review a film frustratingly close to the end of its cinematic run. In this case it doesn’t matter, however, as Now You See Me is probably not worth a trip to the cinema.
Four magicians are brought together by an unknown mastermind who instructs them to conduct a series of elaborate heists. It’s up to two agents (Mark Ruffalo and Mélanie Laurent) to foil “The Four Horsemen” – one of whom is a woman. “The Four Horsepeople” doesn’t sound quite so impressive.
The first problem is that much of the spectacle is built around the magic tricks of The Four Horsepeople, all represented with the use of CGI. The whole point of magic is seeing someone do it “for real”. When one knows it’s simply computers doing the magic, it’s substantially less impressive. Of course it’s all trickery of some sort, but the thrill of seeing this trickery live is essential.
These flashy visuals serve also to cover up the dodgy plot, whose twists and turns leave you feeling rather cheated. It’s never entirely clear who we’re meant to be rooting for and none of the characters are particularly well developed. Worst of all is Mélanie Laurent’s character, who’s entirely redundant and offensively submissive.
That’s not to say there’s nothing in here to enjoy. The ensemble cast are excellent; Woody Harrelson is funny, Morgan Freeman watchable as ever and Mark Ruffalo the only person we care about. It’s well directed by Louis Leterrier, the stylish visuals and fast pace making Now You See Me sufficiently diverting.
It just can’t shake the feeling of being Hustle-with-magic. And not early Hustle, when it was fresh and clever. This is like watching the last series of Hustle, when we’d stopped caring and the writing had gotten lazy. In the end Now You See Me is The Usual Suspects with a load of tricks put in, but all the magic taken out.