I knew Now You See Me and I weren’t going to get along early on, when Isla Fisher’s character throws a sheet on top of something as part of a magic routine, and the sheet is obviously CGI, all crazy pirouettes and whirls. It struck me as somewhat ironic that a movie ostensibly about sleight of hand and trickery opted for something so clearly fake over something subtle but convincing. There is plenty of CGI throughout Now You See Me, and it’s mostly employed to keep you from thinking too much about the absurd plot.
Fisher joins Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, and Dave Franco as jobbing magicians who are separately contacted by a mysterious figure and enlisted into a mystic order of magicians. Or something. The four team up and become famous illusionists, until as part of a performance in Las Vegas they somehow stage a bank robbery in Paris, and FBI agents Mark Ruffalo and Mélanie Laurent are called in to investigate.
The film’s main asset is its sprawling cast. All of them (including veterans Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman, as a financier and ex-magician respectively), turn in performances with lots of charm. It’s mainly Ruffalo’s show though, as the main quartet spend less and less time onscreen, and we focus on his increasingly frustrated efforts to track them down.
Plenty of twists ensue, as well as fist fights, car chases, and more gaudy stage magic. Ultimately it’s a slick bit of Hollywood bombast masquerading as something trickier. I just didn’t buy any of it, and when a film is clearly trying to draw you in and then dazzle you with plot turns, that’s a problem.