Louis Leterrier is a director who likes to push the boundaries of plausibility but his latest offering, ‘Now You See Me’ takes, not only the biscuit, but the entire packet of Digestives.
Leterrier, who is perhaps best known for ‘The Transporter’, ‘The Hulk’ and ‘The Clash of the Titans’, has a penchant for pushing the boundaries of plausibility and when that’s done right it can be immensely enjoyable but floating balloons, a Jason Bournesque fight scene and money, money, money are the French director’s undoing here.
At the start of the film, we are introduced to four magicians (Eisenberg ‘The Social Network’, Fisher ‘The Wedding Crashers’ Harrelson ‘Natural Born Killers’ and Franco ‘Warm Bodies’.)
The four magicians, who end up going by the name ‘The Four Horsemen’, have their own individual skills and after agreeing to the instructions set-out by a mysterious individual they proceed to take the Las Vegas entertainment show circuit by storm when they appear to rob a bank in Paris whilst on stage in Las Vegas.
Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman - ‘Seven’) is a former magician who sets out to unveil how the likes of The Four Horsemen pull off their tricks.
When the wand wielding quartet purport to rob the bank, the FBI and Interpol are called into investigate and what ensues is a game of cat and mouse.
If you’re not able to work out what is going on about half through this film then it’s safe to say that things like telling the time and asking for directions are tasks you struggle with - ‘Now You See Me’ is utterly predictable and all too obvious.
The first half of ‘Now You See Me’ is definitely enjoyable and fun.
Watching Woody Harrelson’s character, Merritt McKinney,
swindle money from unsuspecting adulterers is entertaining and the bank robbery scene had a touch of Steven Soderbergh’s ‘Ocean’s 11’ about it.
Eisbenberg is sound as card shuffling Daniel Atlas and new comer Dave Franco slots in perfectly as the group’s junior member.
The quartet, as a unit, are let down by a lacklustre performance from Australian actress Isla Fisher.
It’s Fisher’s biggest role to date and instead of coming across as sultry and seducing she ends feeling more like a Paul Daniels trick gone horribly wrong.
The film’s strongest performance comes courtesy of Mark Ruffalo who plays obsessive FBI agent Dylan Rhodes with brilliant temperance.
Part of the fun with a film like ‘Now You See Me’ is trying to work out the twist and who is really behind what’s going on but Leterrier’s film is so blatantly obvious that the fun is short-lived and you are forced to sit through almost 90 minutes of set-pieces designed for visual spectacle as opposed to sound substance.
‘Now You See Me’ suffers from the same condition as so many recent films - if someone in the film decides to do something then despite the laws of physics and plausibility, they can.
The second half of the film is filled with nonsensical, never explained set-pieces that I couldn’t have cared less about what happened to the four magicians and enthusiastically, I wanted their plans to fail.
There’s also a fight scene involving Franco’s character Jack Wilder that’ll have you thinking that instead of performing card tricks he should join the US special forces and take on the Taliban.
The quartet’s final trick is to tackle the problem of the economic crisis in America, which was caused by greed, by rewarding the people of New York with money. Is it just me but is tackling a problem created by a crazed desire for money by giving those affected more money not a bit ridiculous and lacking in principle?
That aside, the ending is as obvious as Kim Kardashian’s derriere and it’s unfortunate the momentum experienced in the opening 30 minutes of the film wasn’t carried through.
‘Now You See Me’ is currently showing at the Brunswick Moviebowl; for full listings visit www.brunswickmoviebowl.com or telephone 028 713 719 99.
Verdict: 2/5 - It’s frivolous fun for about half an hour but then the ending becomes so laboured and blatantly obvious that what follows feels just like something you have to sit through in order to be proved right.
Harrelson, Eisenberg and Franco are all decent but while she is nice to look at, Isla Fisher, is more wooden than a log cabin .
It suffers from acute, ‘if you decide you want to do something you can’ syndrome which is utterly infuriating.