In Now You See Me, the film has the most original of premises. And for that alone, our Now You See Me review has to salute it. It also has one of the better casts of 2013 with Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Michael Caine, Mark Ruffalo, Morgan Freeman and Dave Franco.
As teased in the Now You See Me trailer, Eisenberg, Fisher, Harrelson and Franco are a magician quartet called The Four Horsemen who steal money from banks all around the world and share the loot with their magic show audiences. In a field of film where sequels dominate and remakes abound, finding something this fresh at the Cineplex is a welcomed joy.
Director Louis Leterrier (The Incredible Hulk, Clash of the Titans) has crafted a world where showmanship is all and that fact permeates every frame of his film. One of the strongest aspects he has going for his film is the pacing as it feels as if the audience is watching a magic show from beginning to end -- complete with the ebbs and flows that captivate audiences that flock to Las Vegas to see slight of hand shows.
Watching The Four Horsemen do their thing is pure bliss, especially lead Eisenberg. The panache he exhibits throughout could remind us of the cocky “character” he played in The Social Network. But, his J. Daniel Atlas is a different breed of boisterous. Eisenberg plays him as a man who not only thinks he is the best at what he does, both onstage and off, but also finds it amusingly annoying that the law wants to stop him and his Horsemen from their successful run.
And perhaps it is a coincidence of casting, but witnessing Harrelson and Eisenberg reunite after their stellar work in Zombieland has us thinking these two could be the new Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon. The way they banter with one another is nothing short of a movie miracle. Let Now You See Me and the Zombieland be the first two of a dozen films they make together.
Fisher, meanwhile, is no wallflower. She may be the only female in this boys' club of magic meets robbery, but the Australian actress handles herself with supreme confidence. In fact, her scene where she pulls off a Houdini-like escape from a water tank will leave you breathless. As told to us in our Isla Fisher exclusive interview, she almost drowned and since in hindsight we know she is fine, let’s just say suffering for one’s art never came off so good!
By the third act, this Robin Hood personified as magicians (who still keep a large percentage of what they steal) loses a bit of steam. It never quite lives up to its promise of premise. But, overall, Now You See Me is like a famed magician’s show. You may not remember the details of each moment, but will go home satisfied it was entertainment money well spent.