Movies
6:31 pm
Fri May 31, 2013

Now You See Me

Now You See me
Grade: B Director: Louis Leterrier (Transporter)
Screenplay: Ed Solomon (The In-Laws), et al.
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg (Social Network), Mark Ruffalo (The Kids are Alright)
Rating: PG 13 Runtime: 116 min.
by John DeSando

“First rule of magic: always be the smartest person in the room.” J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg)

In the case of the magical little entertainment called Now You See Me, you don’t have to be the smartest person in the audience to be charmed by the illogical “magic” of the tricks or the script. In a takeoff of traditional heist films and homage to recent films like The Incredible Burt Wonderstone and The Prestige, with a smattering of smart, sometimes humorous chatter, this film moves at rapid pace (French director Louis Leterrier knows how from his Transporter films) with a lack of seriousness about the tricks, which are mostly explained as the film moves on.

Those revelations will bother purists who don’t want to know the secrets or critics who demand a reasonable arc for the story. Like the magic itself, the film eventually captures the imagination enough to suspend disbelief and just go with the fun.

The “four horsemen” (Atlas, played by Eisenberg; Merritt by Woody Harrelson; Henley by Isla Fisher; and Jack by Dave Franco) create three successive magic shows, one in Las Vegas, a second in New Orleans, and the third in New York. The stakes rise incrementally as they appear to be playing Robin Hood to their large, American-Idol type audiences by showering them with money from their magical heists.

As in most thrillers, there are minor twists, and the final one that stretches credulity, or that some will see coming, along with a hopper full of smaller ones even naïve I could see from far off. Besides, like the Oceans films’ heists, it’s not about the heist or the magic. It’s about the slick magicians, their easy banter, and comeuppance for the real baddies.

Outrageous set pieces like the car race will disconcert those looking for a tightly-told narrative. The magic is always questionable because film deals in magic with practically every frame. However, the cast is delightfully comic, the direction speedy and tricky, and the entire film wants you in on the magic. For a summer film, that’s a magic formula.

John DeSando co-hosts WCBE 90.5’s It’s Movie Time and Cinema Classics, which can be heard streaming and on-demand at WCBE.org. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.rr.com

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