An all star cast line up for a big budget summer film that I had somehow never heard of. Now You See Me follows a group of magicians while they pull off a series of high profile robberies in the course of performing some equally high profile shows together for a mysterious magician’s underworld figure. All the while they are pursued by an FBI detective and his reluctant (on both sides) but gorgeous partner from interpol (played by Melanie Laurent).
Light hearted and engaging, there is nothing obvious about this film. It explores the themes of deception and illusion both in the context of a magician’s repertoire as well as in the broader context of the ongoing chase. The closer you look, the less you really see are among the many zen-like magician’s mantras which pop up periodically throughout the film. The film is entertaining and engaging throughout and there are various plot twists and (a sometimes a little bit too obvious) misdirections scattered in the detective’s chase.
The characterisations are generally good, as is the acting. With guys like Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman in the cast, how could you go wrong? What I found quite unfortunate was that the female characters were both poorly-written. Isla Fisher didn’t have a lot to work with, and her character felt very one-dimensional, I also felt that her acting wasn’t quite up to par, but it was difficult to really tell, given her lines. Melanie Laurent, who is most famous for her role in Quentin Tarantino’s film Inglorious Basterds, plays a character which at times seemed like a mere afterthought. The tension between her and Mark Ruffalo’s character was well-played, although their developing attraction stretched credibility at times.
I won’t give anything away, but I found the ending disappointing. I wasn’t able to predict it, which was refreshing, but it left me with a feeling of “is that it?”. It does ties up the film, but I can’t help but think that the writers and editors could have spent a little bit more time making it “unfold” in a nicer way. Still – the poorly executed ending doesn’t detract from the overall enjoyability of the film. The director of photography’s choice to egregiously overuse that shot where the camera circles around a person does detract a little from the enjoyability of the film. Not since Dungeons and Dragons was that shot so overused (although fortunately this film had a lot more going for it in other important areas).
My favourite magician’s movie is still The Prestige, but this is a thoroughly enjoyable, not-too-heavy and generally well-executed film which will keep you entertained for almost the entire duration of it.