Oh Good. Zuckerberg’s grown out his hair.

Theatrical Release Date: 05/31/2013
Director: Louis Leterrier
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, Mélanie Laurent, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Common
Rated: PG-13 for language, some action and sexual content.
Runtime: 1 hour, 56 minutes


God loves magic!

The coolest magic trick in Now You See Me takes place in the first five minutes of the film. Jesse Eisenberg is Mark Zuckerberg J. Daniel Atlas, street magician, and as he addresses his audience, he shuffles a deck of cards towards the screen: Pick a card, any card… And then, alakazam!! The card I picked is the one he reveals!! How’d he do that?!?? This is just like that time I saw David Copperfield on TV and he picked my card through the TV!!! It’s magic!! Magic is awesome!

And an awesome magician (or even smarmy ol’ Mark Zuckerberg Jesse Eisenberg) needs an awesome entourage of magician friends. There’s Isla Fisher as his former assistant turned escape artist solo act, Woody Harrelson as a mentalist/hustler and Dave Franco, up-and-coming magic pickpocket. Together, they stage an awesome show in Las Vegas as The Four Horsemen, where their most amazing trick is stealing a load of money from a French bank and showering it on their audience using only their magic powers! Or chicanery. Whichevs.

They are funded by Michael Caine and opposed by Morgan Freeman, who plays one of those jerky former magicians who exposes the secrets behind the spectacle. Oh, and the cops (Mark Ruffalo and Mélanie Laurent) show up to bring them down for being bank robbers. Now You See Me is a magic fueled hybrid of a heist film and a cop movie. Ruffalo is the true main character here and, while he does have some palpable chemistry with Laurent, it’s kind of a shame, since I’d much rather stick with the magicians and find out a little bit more about what makes them tick and how they pull off their feats of prestidigitation. Ruffalo’s disbelief and skepticism is understandable, but irritating. I demand more magic in my magician movies!

Don’t get me wrong, there was some magic and it was cool, but, more often than not, Now You See Me doesn’t give its audience illusion and sleight of hand, it gives us CGI. Which is okay, I guess. The acts of The Four Horsemen were all worthy of oohs and aahs, but I didn’t believe for a minute that I would see them in a real Vegas show. David Copperfield (he’s my go-to magician, have you noticed? That guy was the man!) walking through the Great Wall of China or making the Statue of Liberty disappear was more plausible than half the magic in this movie.

It’s possible I am just too cynical and expect too much from my magician movies (I say that like I can actually remember another magician movie I’ve seen. I never saw that Steve Carell one…). I suppose I should be more of a Mulder and less of a Scully, but it’s just so hard when a film is as un-awesome as this one. It has so much potential and promise, but ultimately fails to fully deliver the goods. I had fun, but I would have enjoyed this movie just as much if I’d caught it on TV next year. There was magic and surprises and even some cool fight and flight scenes, but the characters were not fully developed and the story only skims the surface of its clever premise.

I am being too picky, aren’t I? I mean, you go to a magic show or a play or a movie and expect that the willful suspension of disbelief is an essential part of your enjoyment. I should really take this movie with a grain of salt. I did like Now You See Me and I might watch it again someday when it makes it to basic cable, but I’m glad I saw it for free as a reviewer and spent my hard earned money on some thoroughly enjoyable popcorn and a Diet Coke. Catch the matinee of this one or wait for cable.

3 out of 5