I feel like I've already seen this. With The Illusionist and The Prestige (also starring Michael Caine) still fresh in the memory, the trailer guilty of giving away a lot, and Jesse Eisenberg still playing the smartass motormouth despite a new hairstyle, Now You See Me would want to have some twists and turns. It does. Too many.
The Four Horsemen - Eisenberg, Harrelson, Isla Fisher and James Franco's kid brother - are a gang of Vegas magicians who play tricks 'on a global scale.' What does that mean? Oh, just teleporting willing participants into bank vaults to steal its contents before distributing them Robin Hood style to the audience. Tracking them down is grumpy cynic cop Mark Ruffalo and professional magician debunker Morgan Freeman, sporting some dodgy earrings.
Who are we rooting for here? Are we hoping the Horsemen get away with it? Their redistribution of wealth politics certainly helps but it's undone by levels of smug that surpass even the Oceans Trilogy. For 118 minutes, Eisenberg and co. revel in the fact that they're smarter than us and let's face it; no one likes a smarty pants. So are we supposed to hope Mark Ruffalo catches them? That's a bit naff, isn't it? We want to see the magic trick that they're bragging about pulling off. For magic to work in a movie, however, a grounded reality has to be established but Transporter/Clash of the Titans director Leterrier hurls us into a world of wonder and piles elaborate prank on fantastic twist. They're more superheroes than magicians at times and it just gets too silly.
But Now You See Me keeps coming. Bar the odd chase sequence, it's very much a talkie and credit where credit's due to Leterrier and his writers that the 'how did they do that?' question keeps things moving and keeps us guessing. They want you to try to figure it out and examine the scenes closely, scenes you just know will be replayed later in the Poirot-esque revelatory flashback montage where you slap your thigh and say, 'should've seen that!' That is fun.
Distracting and diverting entertainment, yes, but did they have to be so conceited about it?