It’s a genuinely rare phenomenon to find a film that carries the audience so well in its spell. For nearly two hours Now You See Me draws you in and doesn’t let go. When the credits roll you barely feel like any time has passed and it leaves you wanting more. It’s not like the explosion-filled bonanza’s that require a cheering crowd to rile you up, nor is it a superhero film that requires admission to a fandom before you can be allowed to ‘enjoy it properly’. Now You See Me is a standalone, franchise-less and source-less. It entrances with snappy dialogue and an intriguing plot. It reminds me of what I hoped The Adjustment Bureau would turn out before it got weirdly preachy.
The four actors at the heart of the film play a group of magicians performing the biggest trick of all time. Jesse Eisenberg plays a smarmy, entitled know-it-all as he does so well, Isla Fisher is added in to give the men a love interest to play off and Morgan Freeman is calmly superior. It’s not exactly a stretch to watch and the performances are entirely comfortable, a group of tropes and stereotypes gathered together for our amusement.
Of course, the magic in the film is done with CGI, you don’t need to question the tricks too closely to realise this, but that doesn’t reduce the mystery of the denouement. In a way it’s similar to Inception – you never know quite how far down the trick goes. You can try to figure it out, or blithely ignore it and wait for the conclusion to surprise and delight you. Both are equally enjoyable.
It won’t win many Oscars, it certainly won’t make Cannes but in the tradition of Busby Berkeley’s flapper girls, Now You See Me is an escapist fantasy, and when it’s done so well there is never a problem with that.
- Entertainment: 5/5
- Artistic: 3/5
- Intellectual: 1/5