'Now You See Me' review: The film's fun, delight is not an illusion
Magic shows are designed to entertain and delight - and this fun caper flick is exciting from its first frame to its final act.
In short: Four stage magicians begin a string of incredible heists, with vengeful victims, rival performers and federal agents quickly in pursuit of them. (watch the trailer)
'Now You See Me' takes no time to quickly introduce each of the Four Horsemen- four street performers who quickly become a Vegas headline act. Each has a specialty and together they are a complete magician act.
Oddly enough, the film never really develops any of the Four Horsemen as characters - they are simply masters in their respective fields (sleight of hand, illusions, mentalism, etc). But this works because the film never slows down enough to delve deep into their individual pasts - they are simply driven master illusion artists who are often two steps ahead of their pursuers. The film maintains its momentum by not focusing on character history - instead it wisely invests its time in presenting the illusions.
The Horsemen continually succeed in impressive, grand heists while their pursuers are always left to figure out how the Horsemen accomplished their feats.
The real character development comes from a former performer (Morgan Freeman) who debunks magicians and the two agents in charge of stopping the Horsemen: a surly skeptical FBI agent (Mark Ruffalo) and an more open-minded Interpol agent (Mélanie Laurent). 'Now You See Me' has a lot of moving parts and a massive cast, however, the film never loses focus on its main narrative, never loses steam in its storytelling and allow all the characters to dynamically interact as their motives twist and turn.
While the film goes to great lengths to explain how the Horsemen pull off their illusions, some of the explanations are glossed over really quickly. We don't need to see every detail of how the sausage was made, but a couple very important steps were explained away almost in passing.
This is a very economical film - almost every single scene is important. Even banter that appears easy-to-write-off pays off. There's almost zero fat to this flick, which is why its energized from the very beginning.
Final verdict: 'Now You See Me' is one of the first truly fun rides of 2013. Charismatic performances from the Horsemen and engaging performances from Ruffalo and Freeman.