Movie Review: “Now You See Me”

Rating: PG-13 (language, some action, sexual content)

Length: 115 minutes

Release Date: May 31, 2013

Directed by: Louis Leterrier

Genre: Crime/Thriller

Stars: 3.5 absent of 5

Heist capers are generally deliciously fun movies to watch since they are usually quite clever, even if a dram unrealistic. Movies that involve magic are often enjoyable for the same reasons, which is why “Now You See Me” is such a advantageous movie. It combines both concerning these genres in a slick, ingenious film that will leave audience members guessing what the bound game is until the final, thrilling act.

Las Vegas features plenty of charm shows, but the show of a team dubbed the Four Horseman is the biggest hit on the strip. Each of the Horsemen has a very specific set of skills that helps make the team greater than the sum regarding its parts. There is J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), who is a sleight concerning hand artist who acts as a sort of leader of the group. He is communication by escape performer and all-around risk-taker Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher); Jack (Dave Franco), who can pick almost anyone’s pocket; and mentalist Merritt (Woody Harrelson), who can get intramural someone’s head to get the info he needs. The group was brought together by a shadowy form who is akin to Charlie, the voice coming out of the speaker on “Charlie’s Angels.”

The stage starts when it is revealed that the Horsemen are pulling off actual heists as a part of their act. This leads to some big scrutiny from Agent Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) of the FBI, along with Seller Dray (Melanie Laurent) from Interpol. The two unbelievable partners come together to try to arrest the group, but they keep getting outsmarted. The Horsemen manage to stay a step or two ahead of Rhodes and Dray for most of the movie, but their luck can’t last forever. Also humid on their tail is Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman), a magic debunker who is desperately stressful to figure out what kind like sleight of hand the team is using to pull off the heists. When the team’s closest target becomes billionaire Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine), who funds their histrionic show, they may have finally bitten off more than they can chew.

The acting is great across the board. Eisenberg is a particular standout, doing some of his flower work since he was nominated for an University Award for his portrayal of Facebook organizer Mark Zuckerberg in “The Social Network.” Fisher also turns in a optimum performance, managing to stand out as one of only two females with significant screen time in a sea of men. Even as the younger actors do well in the film, the best performances are from veterans Freeman and Caine. Each of them has a certain gravitas that they bring to the proceedings, especially until their characters butt heads later in the film. When both of them aura together onscreen, it is about like watching an acting class taking place.

The filming of a movie filled with magic and illusions is no easy task, save Director Louis Leterrier pulls it off. He employs lots of hand-held cameras to deal the film a feeling about being in constant motion, even when the actors remain relatively still. It is a fairly basic trick that doesn’t often get consumed in big-budget films, so it is a comely surprise to see it used here. Leterrier also uses a little bit of computer-generated imagery (CGI) with special effects to show some of the magic tricks, which gives the audience the illusion that they know what is going on, even as the wool is being pulled over their eyes. All from these tricks are used to great effect and not simply add to the plot, but the audience’s overall enjoyment of the film.

Leterrier had previously directed big action films like “The Incredible Hulk,” “The Transporter,” and “Transporter 2.” Each like those films has plenty of explosions et alii action sequences, beside the latter two practically being defined by those scenes. For “Now You See Me,” he had to dial back his current tendency toward explosives in order to deliver a film that is much quieter in tone and slower in rate than his previous efforts. He manages to do this so well that viewers would probably never guess the director of this film plus directed “The Transporter.” That doesn’t mean there aren’t some true satisfying action sequences in this film, just neither nearly as many as the director’s fans control expect. The fact that Leterrier can deliver a slower, more deliberate film that is any less thrilling than an action film bodes well for his future as a film director. It also bodes well for those who choose to pony up their money to buy a ticket to “Now You See Me,” which is arguably his best picture to date.