Now You See Me had such potential, it is a shame watching it go to waste. With a cast that includes Jesse Eisenberg, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Mark Ruffalo and Woody Harrelson it should have been a guaranteed powerhouse of a film. Sadly, choppy writing and some major logic flaws turn what should have been a blockbuster into a movie that is merely mediocre.
The concept itself is genius. A group of magicians (Eisenberg, Harrelson, Isla Fisher and Dave Franco) pull of a series of heists constantly outwitting skeptical FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) and is partner Alma (Melanie Laurent). This should have been a straightforward story filled with surprises. Unfortunately it gets so caught up in its subplots that it forgets what story it wants to tell.
The result is admirable but still muddled. Directed by Louis Leterrier the script actually went through six writers before it got made, never a good thing and it shows in the film itself. It is as if each writer had a fantastic idea and rather than cut them down into a single plot they each made their own movie and spliced them together. What this means is that there something like three main stories all going on at once with very little character development in any story.
There are plenty of action sequences but when someone gets hurt or potentially killed the audience doesn’t know them well enough to be invested in their safety. It should be noted that this is the fourth film released this season to employ a surprise villain. While the concept certainly works in the context of the film’s “the closer you look, the less you see” motto, placing the movie back-to-back with other films that employ the same plot device weakens the surprise.
What may have been ingenious in Iron Man 3 seems tired by this movie. This is not that say that Now You See Me is a bad movie, it isn’t. The film’s biggest fault is wasting a truly stellar cast on a script that never delivers the goods. One can’t help but think that the concept might be better put to use in a serialized comic book. There are plenty of people out there that would pay good money to see the continuing adventures of The Four Horseman.
In the age of Hollywood remakes and reboots it is totally feasible to imagine the characters taking new life in another medium. Whether it is television or books there is a plethora of stories that could be told given the basic concept. Unfortunately, it is very clear that like its band of rogue magicians, this movie has nothing up its sleeve.