NOW YOU SEE ME
An elite FBI squad is pursuing The Four Horsemen (Woody Harrelson, Jessie Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco), a team of the world's greatest illusionists who pull off a series of daring heists against corrupt business leaders during their performances, and then funnel the millions of stolen profits into their audiences' bank accounts. FBI Special Agent Dylan (Mark Ruffalo) is determined to make the magicians pay for their crimes-and to stop them before they pull off what promises to be an even more audacious heist. But he's forced to partner with Alma (Melanie Laurent), an Interpol detective about whom he is instantly suspicious. Out of desperation he turns to Thaddeus (Morgan Freeman), a famed magic debunker, who claims the bank heist was accomplished using disguises and video trickery. One thing Dylan and Alma agree on is that the Horsemen must have an outside point person, and that finding him (or her) is key to ending the magicians' crime spree.
Review by Louise Keller:
A hugely enjoyable thriller, whose sleight of hand is both audacious and ambitious, Louis Leterrier's film is considerable in scale and daring. But be warned: The springboard on which the film is balanced is one that asks its audience to take a leap of faith - and embrace the illusion and the impossible. We are given strings of clues (as well as red herrings) throughout, but there are more questions than answers in this high concept and original screenplay by Ed Solomon, Boaz Yakin and Edward Ricourt. 'The more you think you see, the easier it is to fool you,' we are told at the beginning of the film, but so fast and relentless is the action, the dazzle overshadows our ability to put all the elements together, irrespective of how closely you look, watch and listen.
The film begins by establishing the key players, beginning with four magicians cum scam artists who display their street skills for ill gotten gains in showy scenarios. There's an intriguing set up that brings the four together before meeting them onstage in Las Vegas (as The Four Horsemen) about to execute an elaborate illusion involving a Paris bank vault, an audience member and money falling like rain. The elements and execution are both showy and baffling; the presence of Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine as two interested parties who have a history with each other also pricks our interest.
The scene in the police station when the apprehended magicians (Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher and Dave Franco) run rings around Mark Ruffalo's FBI special agent who has been assigned to making the crime stick is very funny. The plot thickens as a second spectacular illusion is staged and by this stage the focus is on the relationships: between Freeman and Caine, the magicians and between Ruffalo and Melanie Laurent's Paris Interpol agent.
It's a formidable cast headed by Ruffalo who is in fine form as the distraught agent. The questions are numerous: What is a distraction and what is the real trick? Who is setting up whom and who is working for whom? Is there a Fifth Horseman? We become intricately involved in the proceedings and the stakes. Admittedly, some of the action is over the top and defies credibility but there's a thrilling car chase and an onslaught of twists and turns before a grand spectacle of a finale. Watch out for the buzzy night-scene in Time Square that reinforces the story's scale.
Throw logic out the window as you watch this invigorating and novel film and don't be afraid to take a leap of faith - you'll be glad you did.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
This is an audacious screenplay, a sleight of hand that takes us in and plays with our minds. It is perhaps a tad far fetched ... a big tad in fact, and the complicated plot needs a lot of focus, but it is so darned appealing. Well, I would say that, being a huge fan of magic. Seductive with its opening magic show delivering fabulous illusion, Now You See Me has a bit of Ocean's 11 at its heart. It's somewhat darker, and it's that darkness that gives it texture.
The engaging story is elevated by a superior cast: Mark Ruffalo zings as Agent Dylan, hot in pursuit of the mysterious and frustratingly effective foursome, who are indeed making magic - and mayhem. All four of them - Woody Harrelson, Jessie Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco - are splendid, and cleanly differentiated with unique characteristics while the lovely Melanie Laurent is charmingly powerful as the Interpol agent with French perfume.
Needless to say, Morgan Freeman delivers a compelling performance as the man who has made a fortune debunking magic tricks. An admirer of great magic, he plays a pivotal role as an outsider; do we trust him? Do we know where he stands? Where are his loyalties? That's what makes the character interesting.
But it's the final twist that delivers the plot payoff, while the big effects and the massive chase give the film a sense of scale. It's bigger than a sleight of hand show in sideshow alley: perhaps too busy with its own cleverness, though.
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NOW YOU SEE ME (M)
CAST: Mark Ruffalo, Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Melanie Laurent, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, Common, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine
PRODUCER: Bobby Cohen, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci
DIRECTOR: Louis Leterrier
SCRIPT: Ed Solomon, Boaz Yakin, Edward Ricourt
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Mitchell Amundsen, Larry Fong
EDITOR: Robert Leighton, Vincent Tabaillon
MUSIC: Brian Tyler
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Peter Wenham
RUNNING TIME: 110 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Hopscotch
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 29, 2013