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<I>Now You See Me</I>: Maybe We Were Tricked, But This Movie Was Actually Fun

This slickly made film about four illusionists pulling off a big heist isn't particularly original (if you've seen Ocean's Eleven or really any other group heist movie, you'll see the obvious similarities), but it is still perfect summer fare. With magic tricks a plenty, a well-rounded and surprisingly funny cast and some pretty great action scenes, Now You See Me delivers more than we had expected ... though it's still the kind of easily digestible and quickly forgettable movie that tends to come out this time of year.

The film begins with the assembling of the Four Horsemen, and leading up to that we get to see each act doing their own street magic: J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg) is a pretentious magician who is working his illusions in order to get laid, mostly; Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson) is a highly charismatic mentalist who makes his money hypnotizing people and swindling cheating husbands; Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher) is the gorgeous former assistant to Atlas who has quite the bloody new performance; and Jack Wilder (James Franco's lookalike brother Dave) is good at picking locks and wallets. They are all given tarot cards with a date and address and once they meet, they are mysteriously delivered the high-tech blueprints for the most elaborate tricks anyone has ever seen.

Cut to a year later and the Four Horseman are performing in front of a huge crowd in a Vegas arena, explaining that for their big trick they are going to rob a bank. They get a "random" person from the audience and then teleport him to his bank vault and then vacuum out $3 million and filter into the arena. They graciously thank their benefactor Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine), who is delighted with the attention their act is getting. However, that bank robbery also brings in the FBI and Interpol (since the bank was in Paris). Meaning that skeptical FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) is begrudgingly partnered with Alma Dray (Melanie Laurent) and the two try and get info out of the quick-thinking magicians, but end up having to release them in the hopes that they'll catch them in the midst of their next crime so they can properly prosecute them. The agents also enlist the help of magic debunker Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman), who helpfully but sarcastically walks Alma and Dylan step-by-step on how the Horseman pulled off their Robin Hood-esque illusion. Then it's off to New Orleans for the Horseman's next big show, and then after they cleverly slip past the FBI again, they head to New York for their final showdown, though even the Horsemen don't entirely know who helped them set this whole thing up.

In a clunky bit of storytelling, along the way Alma and Dylan fall in love, even though there really isn't any reason for this to be there... and the two have less than zero chemistry together. The movie needn't have had any sexy talk at all, though Merritt trying to woo Henley into a quick romp was pretty entertaining. The dialogue throughout, but during particularly in the "love" scenes, was just so heavy-handed with lots of references to being the smartest person in the room and thinking ahead and looking at the big picture.

Still the tricks were really fantastic, and the debunking was a nice touch. Plus, the actual Horsemen really just worked extremely well together, with Atlas as the smarmy know-it-all douchebag of the group, Merritt as the charming distraction, Henley as the brainy eye-candy and Jack as the adorably dashing heartthrob. Halfway through the movie, I was thinking that Jack didn't have enough to do, and then they went and gave him an awesome fight scene that more than made up for his initial minimization. There could also have been more development of the tension between Henley and Atlas, as their simmering love-hate relationship was far more interesting than anything Alma and Dylan had going on. Freeman was well-cast in his mischievous role and Ruffalo did his grumpy FBI agent rather well. The biggest acting fail was with Laurent, who needed to bring more punch to her sassy role since her character had some key parts in pivotal moments. Instead, her performance seemed rote and didn't deliver the same high energy as the rest of the cast had.

Overall, it was an enjoyable time, but we've got a feeling it will disappear from theaters quicker than flash paper given that it's going up against After Earth and the still-dominant Fast and Furious 6.

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