September 03, 2013

MOVIES: Now You See Me (Louis Leterrier, 2013)

Four second-tier magicians (appropriately enough, played by four second-tier movie stars: Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, and Dave Franco) are brought together to form "the Four Horsemen," a Vegas-caliber team who take to ending their shows with enormous thefts of money that they give away to their audience, Robin Hood style. Mark Ruffalo's the FBI agent on the case, Melanie Laurent's his Interpol partner, Michael Caine's the wealthy impresario who backs the Horsemen, and Morgan Freeman's the Amazing Randi-esque debunker.

The problem is that with today's digital trickery and effects, it's nearly impossible to make a good movie about magic; when you can do anything imaginable with movie magic, the audience has no reason to believe that it's seeing real magic, or to be impressed by what it sees.

You can get around that if magic is just the backdrop for a good story about magicians, if character outweighs flashy tricks, but that's not the case here. The characters are standard action-movie thin, and while the movie's moderately entertaining in the moment, it's entirely disposable, and the plot twists that seem clever as they're happening fall apart the second you have time to think about them.

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