Now You See Me – Review ★★★

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Now You See Me looks to have it all: The premise combines magic, mystery and robin hood style thievery, the casting is pretty spectacular and the trailer gave enough thrills and spills to intrigue even the most unexcitable of movie goers, but the question is does the film live up to the hype – the answer, sort of.

Director Louis Leterrier (The Incredible Hulk) gathers an impressive line-up consisting of a mixture of celebrated veterans, accomplished stars and notable up and comers. The storyline seems unique and exciting; an unknown benefactor draws together a team of magicians with different skills and varying levels of past association.

J.Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg) is a charming, yet narcissistic ladies man already championed as one of the best magicians in the world, Henley Reeves (the wonderful Isla Fisher, who is currently shaking off her comedy stereotype for some welcome meatier roles) was once an assistant to Atlas but is now holding her own as an illusionist, Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) has been fleecing the general public with his sleight of hand whilst Merrit McKinney (Woody Harrelson) has been using his hypnosis skills to do the same.

One year after their introduction and now going by the name The Four Horsemen it appears the group’s aim is to rob banks on stage, with their efforts landing them celebrity status and a series of sold out shows – however it’s not only public who are interested in the act, which leads them to become involved in a cat and mouse game with Detective Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) and Interpol Agent Alma Dray (Mélanie Laurent) as both try to stay one step ahead.

As the story evolves it becomes apparent that their assembly might have been for an ulterior motive, and what ensues is a second half with many twists and turns leading up to the big reveal which, whilst not altogether unexpected, is clever and well thought out.

Everyone is on top form, Eisenberg is in his element as egotistical Atlas, shining as he takes centre stage whilst supporting  actors Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman give effortless, and as always stellar, performances as insurance tycoon/Horseman sponsor Arthur Tressler and ex-magician Thaddeus Bradley who now makes a living from revealing the secrets of others.

There is plenty of pizzazz, smart dialogue, some brilliant action sequences and excellent pacing for the first half however, although the characters are well-written little of their background is explored which doesn’t lend itself so well for your investment and the second half just seems a tad over-rushed and under-explained, perhaps Leterrier is setting himself up for a sequel – which there is certainly space for.

Whilst Now You See Me doesn’t exactly disappoint; it doesn’t quite achieve the brilliance of its potential. Stylish, slick and full of adrenaline but ultimately a little shallow – the film opens with a bang and holds your attention for the most part but trails off towards the end.

Now You See Me trivia: The cast were encouraged to learn their characters trades for real to make their performances more authentic, with Jesse Eisenberg being praised for his sleight of hand and Dave Franco becoming ‘weirdly good’ at throwing cards, however Woody had a little less look trying to hypnotise bar patrons, being fooled into thinking his tricks had worked on Mark Ruffalo. Either way you have to admire their dedication.

Katie Hall is the assistant editor at Critics Associated.