“Now You See Me” is like a mediocre magic trick. It just barely keeps your interest until a final reveal that might be surprising in the moment, but grows less satisfying the more you think about it.
“Now You See Me” pits an elite FBI squad against “The Four Horsemen,” a team of the world’s greatest illusionists. They also rob banks.
On paper, this looks like it should be an excellent movie. It boasts an impressive, star-studded cast. It has a combination of two genres, heist films and magician films, which can be brilliant when done correctly.
Then it reaches an end that falls backward onto the preceding two hours. I won’t spoil it, but it leaves the audience with more questions than answers, and it makes much of the action so far seem meaningless and shallow.
A good twist ending, which is rather important for a magician/heist film, is supposed to add to the film. It could leave us with a sense of “Oh, how did I miss that!” or at least a satisfying “So that’s how they did it!” This film does neither.
Aside from the ending, “Now You See Me” isn’t that terrible. The cast members all play their parts as cool as they can, with Mark Ruffalo’s FBI agent getting the most attention. Morgan Freeman acts like Morgan Freeman. The same can be said for Michael Caine. However cool they may be, there’s never any real chemistry.
The “Four Horsemen” team of magicians consists of Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher and Dave Franco. The magic acts look cool on the surface, but never inspire that “How did they do that?” sense of wonder.
In “Ocean’s Eleven” –which had a decent ending– George Clooney and Brad Pitt are cooler, smarter, quicker and easy to root for. “Now You See Me” has a cast that feels like they’re playing separate characters that have been thrown together from different movies. There’s nobody to root for, either. It’s hard to care if the thieves win or lose.
A critical element of a magic trick is misdirection, much like how “Now You See Me” uses a star-studded cast and unique premise to misdirect the audience away from a weak film.