Mark Ruffalo, Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, Melanie Laurent, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman
Dir. Louis Leterrier
Within minutes of the start of Now You See Me you wonder if someone has been watching the BBC series Hustle. The similarities are all there: the individual scamsters plying their trades, trumpet heavy music swinging away in the background, dizzying camera work and snappy editing. The difference though, is that where Hustle is the BBC’s television series about plain old long con hustlers, Now You See Me is made up of magicians.
There have been other films using magic as a theme. Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige (also with Michael Caine) comes to mind, as does Edward Norton’s the Illusionist, both of them stunningly crafted and mesmerising films, but neither of them added another ingredient: spectacular heists.
Now You See Me is an ambitious film, plotting and twisting as a group of the world’s best conjurors, escapologists and mentalists are brought together by a mysterious and unseen mentor. Their task, they don’t know. They don’t even know who they’re working for which is bad news for Mark Ruffalo’s FBI agent Dylan Rhodes and Melanie Laurent, flown into America on behalf of Interpol. If the sharp minds of the magicians don’t know who’s calling the shots what chance has PC Plod and his sidekick?
Amongst the line up of talent on display, Ruffalo plays an untypically edgy character, prone to shouting. Not the usual soft spoken roles I’ve come to associate with him. But Jesse Eisenberg is still in Mark Zuckerberg mode after his starring role in The Social Network; all gobby and cocksure, asking for a slap just to shut him up.
There’s very little wrong with this film, whatever the pompous professional critics might say. It’s adrenaline fuelled, stylishly staged, baffling and curious in equal measure. If you guess how it ends that’s all it will be, a lucky guess. I made several attempts at trying to figure out the answer to the central question and I was right in the end, but only because I had exhausted every possible outcome.