Francesca Rudkin is an entertainment reviewer for NZ Herald.

Movie review: Now You See Me

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Now You See Me has plenty of highs and lows.
Now You See Me has plenty of highs and lows.

A heist film with a magical edge, Now You See Me puts on quite a show - with mixed results.

A mysterious patron brings together four of the world's top magicians to conduct daring heists where they steal from banks and corrupt corporations as they perform their high-tech stage shows.

J.D (Jesse Eisenberg), Henley (Isla Fisher), Merritt (Woody Harrelson) and Jack (Dave Franco) are known as The Four Horsemen, and become cult heroes as they redistribute their newly acquired wealth, outwitting flustered FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo).

It's a novel idea but its treatment is a little too clever for its own good. The twists and turns are constant as the identity of who is behind the Horsemen is hinted, with some too obvious, some too obscure, and the plot holes hard to ignore. Basically, we're never drawn into caring about the mystery at the heart of this ambitious crime thriller.

The magicians do their best with characters who are interesting enough but aren't given the time to become anything more.

Fisher and James Franco's younger brother, Dave, are underused but hold their ground, and The Social Network's Eisenberg plays the snarky genius, again. Which leaves group veteran Harrelson to add humour with his charming Southern routine.

The unusual casting choice is French actress Melanie Laurent, who brings a different pace and feel as Interpol agent Alma Dray. She's not an unwelcome addition to what is a fast-paced and ballsy blockbuster, but her calm, intelligent and philosophical European persona feels a little out of place.

That said, a good cast, slick aesthetic and decent pacing make for good-looking fun. There's also an acting master class when Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman, playing characters keen to end the Horsemen's act, get together in scenes.

All the elements for a successful blockbuster are here, but, unlike the shows its superstar magicians put on, too much smoke and mirrors over-complicates what could have been a great trick.

Stars: 3/5
Cast: Isla Fisher, Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco
Director: Louis Leterrier
Running time: 115 mins
Rating: M (violence, sexual references and offensive language
Verdict: Ocean's Eleven with magicians committing heists

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