Now You See Me

now you see meReleased: 2013
Director: Louis Leterrier
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson

Flashy and fun – but don’t look too closely


I used to volunteer for Radio Lollipop, a brilliant charity which provides entertainment for children in hospitals through radio shows and people playing with the children on the wards. Volunteers went through extensive training which could sometimes be a little tough but there were also some fun play training sessions. Including one on magic tricks, my big cousin is a fabulous magician and children’s entertainer so I decided to carry on the family tradition and learn how to become a magician. I quickly realised it wasn’t for me – mostly because I’m a cack-handed numpty. I can just about manage the trick where you make a hankie disappear into your hand. Magic, as it turns out, isn’t my thing. Despite that though I was thoroughly intrigued by Now You See Me, a thriller set in the world of high-concept magic.

Four magicians are gathered together by a mysterious figure who has designed a spectacular show. One year on from working local entertainment circuits and hustling for cash the quartet is selling out big shows in Las Vegas. The climax of one such show sees the group seemingly rob a bank in Paris. What follows is a clever cat-and-mouse chase as FBI agent Mark Ruffalo attempts to discover how they committed the crime and the group move on to more spectacular acts of larceny.

I didn’t go into this with high expectations despite the stellar ensemble cast which includes Jesse Eisenberg, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Mark Ruffalo and Woody Harrelson. My low expectations were completely unwarranted however, this is a fabulously fun film which I thoroughly enjoyed while watching it. Thinking about it afterwards made me start to question too much and realise it was, like all the best magic shows, more style than substance. That doesn’t matter in the slightest – as a movie experience Now You See Me is absolutely great.

Jesse Eisenberg is outstanding as J. Daniel Atlas, the arrogant close-up specialist. He totally takes control of his role and leads the cast from the front, not easy when you consider the rest of the actors. Harrelson has some of the best lines and he delivers them with incredible panache – between this and Hunger Games he really is mastering the art of scene-stealing. I have to admit to that I felt a little cold towards Isla Fisher and Dave Franco – Fisher seemed a bit flat and Franco was underused. Ruffalo was understated but in a good way – facing the flashy Eisenberg it wouldn’t have worked to have another big performance.

The story was engaging and fun and directed with flair by Louis Leterrier. By the end it did get a little silly with the flashiness being given more precedence than the story. As I said, there was more flash-bang wallop than anything substantial but a good, enjoyable film doesn’t need to be substantial. It just needs to deliver a fun show and Now You See Me does this brilliantly.

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  1. Jason and I saw this and we both really liked it. He thinks it’s the most fun he’s had at the movies all year. I didn’t love it that much, but like you was surprised by it.

    • The more I think about it the more I think it’s going to be a real surprise hit of the summer. It is a lot of fun.

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