The trailer of this French-American film, directed by Louis Leterrier, promises much. It is edited and structured such that it instantly leads one to believe that this film will be one to contest with the likes of The Illusionist (2006) and The Prestige (2005) – in fact some scenes from the trailer seem to virtually have been lifted from The Prestige, including certain bits of dialogue (for instance, in Now You See Me (the trailer) a voiceover comments, ‘Come in closer, because the more you think you see, the easier it’ll be to fool you’; in the Prestige, ‘Now you’re looking for the secret… but you won’t find it, because of course you’re not really looking. You don’t really want to know. You want to be fooled’).
But to the film’s credit, it is not a poorly-made version of The Prestige as I had initially feared.
The plot is as follows: A team of four former street magicians (now stage illusionists) appear to use ‘magic’ to pull off a number of bank heists while performing on stage, leading to them being investigated by the FBI and Interpol, through whose fingers they appear to slip through at every turn.
Good. Solid performances from the main cast (Mark Ruffalo, Michael Cain, Moragn Freeman, Jesse Eisenberg, etc). Surprisingly Isla Fisher was watchable (somehow she’s just hard to watch after a whiny performance in Confessions of a Shopaholic), and Dave Franco was quite good, in what I believe is his debut film.
Nothing spectacular, nothing special. This is not a dialogue-based film, the plot revolves more around action and suspense and mystery than it does around language. Nonetheless, a film that keeps one guessing and is fairly entertaining.
For me, the one great problem with this film was that the resolution/ending was ridiculously unsatisfying, the viewer feels duped (and not in the good sense like in The Prestige)- much like the reader of a detective novel would feel when the writer does not ‘play fair’ and creates a completely random ending which does not fit at all. We are strung along for 115 minutes after which we have a rushed revelation, which seems thrown in just for the element of surprise, so that the film-makers can have a laugh and say ‘Ha! You didn’t think of that did you?’
Too much time is spent on the exposition of the film and too little on the denouement.
In this film, the cinematography is a highly emphasized element, and is one of the film’s strongest points in my opinion.
The film focuses on magic and the mechanics of magic in addition to more mundane themes such as revenge.
Overall: Had high expectations, and was left feeling dissatisfied with the film. Still an entertaining watch though, if one has nothing else to do.