“Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it”
So said the supremely gifted writer Roald Dahl, and it could easily be used for all the naysayer critics who have panned Now You See Me. The latest effort by French director Louis Leterrier thrusts magic into the spotlight, giving it top bill and centre stage with all manner of tricks, illusions and slights of hand. And what a delight it is, skating along at a glorious pace, with spectacular sets and surprises aplenty.
It all begins shrouded in mystery when four highly-talented magicians are each brought together by specifically designed tarot cards. Arrogant showman J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), his glamorous former assistant Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher) who has since made it as an escapologist, cocky mind-reader and hypnotist Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson) and pickpocket extraordinaire Jack Wilder (Dave Franco), discover a set of highly developed plans. Working together, it’s clear they will be part of something very secretive and very special. For once, they are in the dark.
Now established as “The Four Horsemen” and on the cusp of super stardom; they announce on stage their grand finale. Something never done before. To rob a bank.. You don’t get that from X-factor. Before a flabbergasted audience, a bank is robbed before their very eyes!
Grumpy agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) is on the case and struggles to take magic seriously; something that is making it harder for him to solve the case. Throw in the insightful former magician Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman) with his own agenda, and you have all kinds of cat and mouse games. And a finale full of elaborate shocks. This is one magic show that will leave you all chasing shadows.
With a strong cast, confident direction and an imaginative screenplay, Now You See Me is full of flamboyant panache. With sets in Vegas, New York and Paris, and with high speed chases, amusing interrogation scenes and distinctive action scenes, it’s certainly not dull. The maverick four are an unusual but inspired line up, with the wisecracking dynamic and differing skills neatly playing out.
Those that aren’t into magic should still get a kick from the reveals, but the big message of the film is that magic is so much fun even when on the outside looking in. It’s easy to say that there are suspensions of belief, that the characters should be better rounded and that the ending should have a more mysterious note, but magic is never a mathematical science. Sometimes, it’s all just about entertaining the audience.