June 04, 2013
Now You See Me
It's an entertaining movie, to be sure. The tricks are dazzling and the story holds you, sometimes even mesmerizes you, and it's funny. The problem is that ultimately it's another caper film, mixed with the plot of an NCIS or Law and Order episode writ large for the big screen. Nothing here is particularly new or innovative, except for the excessive cleverness of the tricks themselves, but it's hard to be impressed by anything in movies anymore when most of the stunts and other feats are performed by a computer.
That leaves us with the talented cast and the undernourished characters: the four magicians are reduced to stock treatment, which means we get Jesse Eisenberg's usual schtick: he speaks too fast and exhibits that same untempered arrogance he had when he played Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network. Woody Harrelson never plays anyone but himself, but at least he's likable: the dumb-on-the-outside but sharp-on-the-inside cowboy. Only Ruffalo and Laurent, whose relationship develops the more they're thrown together by the investigation, have much room to grow, and the writers--Ed Solomon, Boaz Yakin, and Edward Riccourt--tend to cliches, such as a budding but suppressed romance.
Louis Leterrier's direction is sure-footed enough though. He's intent on showing us a good time, and for the most part he succeeds. Watching Now You See Me is like watching really entertaining trash on TV: no one is likely to remember it a year from now, but it's a welcome diversion from all the other summer fodder, which involve superheroes and the like. 115 min. ★★