“Come in close, because the more you think you see, the easier it’ll be to fool you,” narrates Morgan Freeman as the veteran illusion debunker Thaddeus in the first trailer for Now You See Me.
That voiceover might bring back memories of Christian Bale’s “Are you watching closely?” from Christopher Nolan’s dueling illusionists film The Prestige – all the more so once Michael Caine shows up. However, this tale of professional do-daring magicians is an old-fashioned heist thriller infused with new life, courtesy of some flashy stage trickery (enhanced via the ‘magic’ of editing/special effects) and high-octane thrills directed by Louis Leterrier (The Transporter, Incredible Hulk, Clash of the Titans).
Now You See Me revolves around the exploits of The Four Horsemen – a group of Las Vegas magicians renowned for their hi-tech shows and mind-boggling stunts – brought to life by Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network), Isla Fisher (Wedding Crashers), Woody Harrelson (Hunger Games) and Dave Franco (21 Jump Street). However, these gifted con artists scale new heights when they pull off a stunt that involves exposing a white-collar criminal (Elias Koteas), ‘magically’ funneling his illicit millions of dollars from his Paris vault and showering their audience with the cash results. But will the Horsemen’s ‘final trick’ be even more impressive (not to mention, lucrative)?
Boaz Yakin (Prince of Persia, Safe) and relative newcomer Edward Ricourt share screen story and co-scripting credit on Now You See Me, with Ed Solomon (Men in Black, Charlie’s Angels) also receiving credit for the screenplay. However, there have been reports that Josh Appelbaum and André Nemec handled script revisions, which is encouraging – given how capable they proved at creating an interesting team player dynamic in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol – and also makes sense, as the duo’s former Alias co-showrunners (Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci) co-produced Leterrier’s latest flick.
Mark Ruffalo (The Avengers) costars as FBI special agent Dylan Hobbs, the man determined to stop the Four Horsemen in their tracks. Mélanie Laurent (Inglourious Basterds) plays Hobbs’ newly-assigned partner; meanwhile, Freeman (as indicated before) is a fellow with insider knowledge that might bring the Horsemen down. But could either (or both) of these mysterious players be secretly in cahoots with the thieving magicians?
If you want the answer, you’ll have to see the film – which, judging by early trailer footage, looks like a well-constructed and exhilarating cinematic thrill ride (though, perhaps one as logic-defying and preposterous as its predecessors).
Sandy Schaefer blogs at Screen Rant.