Published May 31, 2013Compared to his previous work (Clash of the Titans, The Incredible Hulk, The Transporter), this slick illusionist heist flick is almost an intimate little character piece for Louis Leterrier. That is to say, elaborate action set pieces and broad, bombastic characters are only part of the game in the more-fun-than-it-should-be Now You See Me.
Leterrier wastes no time getting the movie moving. In mere minutes, we've been efficiently introduced to the principle players: the cocky, womanizing Criss Angel type, Michael Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg); his former assistant turned stage magician, Henley (Isla Fisher); a shady mentalist grifter, Merritt Osbourne (Woody Harrelson); and escape artist Jack (Dave Franco).
All four gifted hustlers are brought together by a mysterious invitation where some grand plan is teased. The title card hits and a year later the group are a headlining magic act called the Four Horsemen. While we're spending time with the tricksters, both in performance and behind the scenes, the movie is enjoyable for what it is: a simple, playful distraction while someone takes your money. But after the foursome seemingly rob a bank using teleportation technology, FBI agent Dylan Hobbs (Mark Ruffalo) shows up to investigate, taking over the narrative in the process.
This shift in perspective allows the audience to be taken in by each trick as it's performed, then see it broken down during the investigation. An efficient way to let the viewers experience both sides of the curtain, yes, but Hobbs simply isn't a very compelling personality and his red herring romance with a suspicious Interpol detective (Melanie Laurent, Inglourious Basterds, Beginners) doesn't feel organic at all.
In neither case is it the fault of the actor — both Laurent and Ruffalo are fine — it's a matter of the film being too focused on methodically shifting plot pieces to give the characters any motivations beyond success or revenge.
Since there's unlikely to be an Ocean's 14 though, this Robin Hood by-way-of David Copperfield caper will have to do for anyone dying to be rooked by a semi-charming group of assorted famous people. (eOne)