Review: Now You See Me

Now You See Me is a solid, fast-paced caper film which follows the exploits of the “Four Horsemen” – a team of stage magicians bent on throwing extravaganzas that Vegas punters would pay top dollar to see. It opens with a flashback dealing with the formation of said team – bringing together washed-out mentalist Merritt McKinnet (Woody Harrelson), street magicians J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg) & Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) as well as escape artist Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher).

With the backing of multi-millionaire Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine), they head out to Vegas where they climax one specific performance with the audacious act of robbing a bank – all the way in Paris, France.   That pisses off the FBI big-time, and before long, they send agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) onto their tail, aided by French Interpol agent Alma Drey (Melanie Laurent)

The awesome chase takes them from the glitz and glamour of Vegas all the way to Bourbon Street in New Orleans (in the middle of Mardi Gras, at that!!!) and the graffiti’d blocks of Queensbridge in New York City.  Rhodes and Drey enlist professional debunker Thaddeus Bradley in their pursuit of  “Copperfield’s Eleven less 7” .

Suffice to say, an element of revenge is central towards driving the plot, with a key player displaying his true colors while incarcerated (no spoilers for you!)

Now could be a good time to HULK out

The characters playing the “Four Horsemen” are thinly sketched, with Harrelson’s being cheated out by his brother/manager and Fisher’s former professional relationship with Eisenberg’s standing out.   I’d strongly disagree with those who think Eisenberg is merely channeling Mark Zuckerberg in his role as Atlas – when he quotes the first rule of magic as being the smartest guy in the room, he practically puts Ruffalo’s Agent Rhodes on the spot (Hey, if Hollywood may ever adapt the Japanese anime Lupin III to the big screen, Ruffalo should portray Inspector Koichi Zenigata)

Inspector Zenigata in action (original Japanese dialogue)

The action sequences are equally splendid, including a freeway chase scene which turns into yet another diversion for the elusive four (and to think that I’ve have had my fill of car chases in Fast & The Furious 6).  Just as director Louis Leterrier managed to reunite Schindler’s List co-stars Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes in his previous Clash Of The Titans, he gets to reunite The Dark Knight co-stars Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman (not to mention the former with  Inception co-star Melanie Laurent –  holy social networking, Batman!!!).  The music is also apropos to the elegant yet hectic pace of the film  – though it’s a pity that The Chemical Brothers declined the offer to score the film due to their busy touring & recording schedule.

Minor quibbles aside, the tension and pacing makes Now You See Me an engaging modern caper film.  Go see it before it’s gone (like “The Four Horsemen”)

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