A star studded cast embark on a game of cat and mouse as the FBI and Interpol attempt to catch four magicians who use the disguise of their magic show to conduct bank heists and give the stolen money to their audiences. This band of magicians are known as The Four Horsemen and are each solo artists brought together by a mysterious hooded figure and a series of tarot cards. When together the group pull off these bank heists as a way of being allowed entry to an exclusive group of magicians known as ‘The Eye’.

“The closer you think you are, the less you’ll actually see”

The film opens every bit as you might expect: introducing the four characters separately, allowing for the audience to quickly get to know them and acknowledge their traits before they are put into the group dynamic. Up first is street magician J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg) whose opening trick is cleverly conducted to work on the audience as well; then comes Merrit McKinney (Woody Harrelson), a mentalist who uses his ‘gift’ to find out dirty secrets about people and extort them of their money. The only female member of the group is Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher), an escapologist and former assistant to J. Daniel Atlas. These three are joined by the only one of the magicians whose actual tarot card links to the Four Horsemen of mythology: Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) who seems to be more like a con artist than magician. These opening scenes are every bit as exciting as you would hope and introduce our heroes as being likeable characters, so much so that it has you gripped form the very beginning.

Jump one year later. Now we’re in Las Vegas watching the Four Horsemen put on a show under the watchful eye of benefactor Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine) and magician defrauder Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman). Here it is that the magicians pull off the bank heist that gets them noticed by the FBI. However, what the audience will notice is just how long this scene drags out and unfortunately it isn’t the only one. As with the case with real life magic shows, the magicians tend to lengthen things out, giving long speeches and explaining what they’re going to do before they do something completely different. While this may be all fine and well at real magic shows, when you have less than two hours on a cinema screen some of the waffle has to be cut down.

“These guys, they’re tricky”

But then that’s why Jesse Eisenberg impresses the most. If it wasn’t for Eisenberg’s charisma then perhaps Now You See Me would run the risk of being slightly dull, but every time Eisenberg appears on screen he hastens up the pace (if not only for his fast talking) but he inhabits the character; it feels like Eisenberg is the only one who has done his research and knows about magicians… which isn’t really surprising considering he was the first name attached to the project.

The other horsemen each have their own moments of glory (although arguably Isla Fisher’s comes at the beginning and never really rears it’s head again) with Harrelson providing a few sporadic laughs throughout, while Dave Franco provides one of the most exciting sequences of the piece in a fight scene with FBI agent Mark Ruffalo where trick mirrors, slight of hand and playing cards all come into use. It really stands out as one of the best action scenes of the summer which is remarkable considering the strength and special effects of the other blockbusters such as Iron Man 3 or Star Trek Into Darkness.

“Want to know how they did it? Just say the magic word”

While each individual actor gets their moment in the limelight at one point or another, it is a slight downfall that the four central characters seem to have very little chemistry with one another. The conversations at times seem jarred and the jokes not as free flowing as you would expect. Perhaps the worst part of the film is the completely unbelievable relationship between Mark Ruffalo’s character and the Interpol agent played by Melanie Laurent. Even the two actors don’t seem invested in that storyline.

Throughout the film there are (almost too many) hints towards the fact that there is going to be a twist so part of the fun comes from guessing what that twist is going to be. There is a little foreshadowing throughout but the reveal should still come as a surprise. It’s a great idea, but arguably poorly executed which is where it is going to be let down. However, this is just a small problem compared to the plot holes scattered throughout the plot and the pointlessness of Michael Caine’s character.

“First rule of magic: always be the smartest guy in the room”

Had it been released at any other time of the year Now You See Me could have very easily run the risk of bombing in the box office. But this is summer and people expect certain things from a summer blockbuster: they want to laugh, be entertained, see great action sequences, wonderful set pieces and big budget effects. And that’s what Now You See Me can deliver. It has it’s flaws but all in all is a thoroughly enjoyable film that can be filed under ‘hit’ for director Louis Leterrier.

My Rating: 6/10

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