Pitched as a collision of “Ocean’s Eleven” and “The Prestige,” the elaborate crime caper “Now You See Me” is a ludicrous, overplotted muddle that, while dazzling along the way, gets lost in its own self-created labyrinth of twists and turns. Like the earlier (and much more satisfying) “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone,” it’s set in the world of magic, and sees four gifted, loosely connected tricksters (Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fischer and Dave Franco) assembled, Avengers-style, by a mysterious hooded figure to become master thieves.
One year later they’re the superstar illusionists The Four Horsemen, who pull off daring bank robberies on-stage and shower the audience in the stolen loot - during their lavish, sold-out Vegas act, for example, they seemingly teleport a randomly selected audience member to his bank in Paris and suck up millions of dollars worth of Euros from its locked-up vault. Catching the eye of the authorities, they’re soon the targets of Mark Ruffalo’s scruffy FBI Agent Dylan Rhodes and Melanie Laurent’s fetching Interpol detective Alma Dray, who with the aid of Morgan Freeman’s wise and all-knowing magic debunker Thaddeus Bradley, attempt to solve the Horsemen’s tricks before their grand finale, where things really should amaze.
If only that were so. French action maestro Louis Leterrier - the man behind the fun “Transporter” movies and the rotten “Clash of the Titans” remake - directs the magic shows with plenty of flashy panache, but lacks the cinematic sleight of hand to pull off the film’s logic-defying plot turns. The self-satisfied script by Ed Solomon, Boaz Yakin and Edward Ricouri isn’t nearly as clever as it thinks it is, and the whole thing is undermined by an overuse of crummy CGI that ruins any sense of wonder the stage tricks would otherwise have had. It all comes down to a final twist that, while certainly unexpected, is more likely to leave viewers feeling cheated rather than amazed.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 47%
Metacritic Score: 50/100
IMDb Rating: 7.5/10