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Four magicians from across the United States are sent a calling card and given an offer beyond their wildest dreams. In exchange, they must perform a number of elaborate and criminal tricks to gain entry to the mythical ‘Eye’. Chased by a federal officer and Interpol, the team must use every trick in their repertoire to escape justice and pin their crimes on another.
Whilst magic brings joy and amazement in the not knowing how the tricks are done, even the most incredible stunts we can put down to some hidden wires or strong magnets. Whilst some of the tricks in Now You See Me are explained, some are not and they are the kind that are performed by computer trickery and not actually possible. These kind of ruined the film for this viewer.
Otherwise, the movie creates a rather interesting plot for the most part, only falling down in its final reveal. How do you capture those who use wizardry? You have to understand how the trick is performed in order to find the evidence, but do who covers their trails more than a magician? This is why FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) brings in magic debunker Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman) to help him solve the case.
The set pieces are obviously elaborate and there is a particular fight sequence using fire paper which is rather entertaining. But it is the magic that stands out above all others and that is what keeps the film fresh. Yes, the final reveal elicits nothing other than a groan and the conclusion doesn’t offer anything in the way of resolution – these are still wanted criminals right? But its the journey that makes this entertaining.
There is another grey area hanging over the entire film and that’s the main characters are actually anti-heroes. They’re performing crimes – just in fun ways. They’re stealing and ruining the life of a man and they’re not even sure until the last who they’re doing it for and if they’re even real. The lure of the ‘Eye’ isn’t explained so the motive for performing these crimes doesn’t exactly make you want to route for the “good guys”. This conflict does detract slightly from the experience.
With four main protagonists the chemistry flows well, Ruffalo is the stand out performance but Jesse Eisenberg does well too. Isla Fisher and Woody Harrelson provide less convincing magic hats, but it all glues together well. The Extended Cut is slightly overlong, but having missed this in cinemas I couldn’t compare the two. Overall, a fun and interesting take on the heist movie that just needed some magic to make it perfect.