Monday, June 3, 2013

Now You See Me

The Four Horsemen are three magicians (Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco) and a mentalist (Woody Harrelson) of indeterminate connection who perform a series of stage spectaculars.
In the first, they rob a Parisian bank of three million euros from a continent away and shower the money like confetti on their Las Vegas audience. Next, they go to New Orleans, where they transfer the $150 million bank account of their benefactor (Michael Caine) to the audience in five- and six-figure increments. By this time, they're being chased by an FBI squad led by Mark Ruffalo, the Interpol agent assigned to work with him (Mélanie Laurent), and an infomercial mogul (Morgan Freeman) who specializes in debunking magic acts.

The magic itself is fun - as misdirection always is - though obviously meaningless in the context of a movie. (The most interesting idea is that a feat of prestidigitation may require years or even decades to pay off.) The Four Horsemen remain sketches with almost no development, though the increasingly reliable Harrelson gets some good laughs out of his routine and the smug superiority of his character. But "Now You See Me" spends most of its time on the police procedural stuff, which lacks interest. As Eisenberg explains to Ruffalo early on, "We're always going to be three steps ahead of you," so following Ruffalo around feels like a waste of time. (He can be very sexy, but looks unkempt and kind of scuzzy here. If I can color my gray, so can he.) Laurent, so appealing opposite Ewan McGregor in "Beginners," has been given a thankless part that goes nowhere. The movie itself feels like a TV special about a Vegas show, never like events actually unfolding here on Planet Earth. And we'd guessed the big surprise reveal about an hour in.

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