There is so much to like about Now You See Me at the concept level.
A fantastic ensemble!
An intriguing premise — almost like Oceans but with the backdrop of magic.
And a racy build up that sets up that premise that makes you go “Wow! How did they do it?!”
In fact, the first few minutes are really well staged, right from the brilliant opening scene when Jesse Eisenberg with his cocky arrogance says: “Come in close, because the more you think you see, the easier it'll be to fool you” while making us — the audience — think of a card during a shuffle and then tells us exactly the card we thought of!
The film has a few such moments where it is really one step ahead of us and makes us wonder how it was done but where it fails is at the Prestige. The climax is contrived, convoluted and convenient. A twist that puts the whole movie to shame. As someone would say in a Venkat Prabhu film: Mangaatha Da!
The resolution and logic is not its only problem, the film is inconsistent in pace and even genre, switching from glib-talking dialogue, spectacular visual effects and suddenly action set pieces. It tries to do too much in the name of misdirection that you can't help feeling disappointed at the end of the trick.
There is nothing more disappointing than a film that does not realise its potential. Nothing more heartbreaking than a film that tries too hard to be smart and falls flat.
Not that it is unwatchable.
Now You See Me is still entertaining for most of its running time. Purely because of what the actors bring to the table.Eisenberg does what he is good at — as the fast talking cocky genius. Woody Harrelson is on holiday mode playing a mentalist. Morgan Freeman does his drill, effortlessly making it sound like he knows more than everyone else in the film. And Mark Ruffalo plays the cynical bitter investigating officer who hates magic with simmering intensity that makes us want him to turn into the Hulk when the film loses steam.
This is no Oceans. No Prestige. But it is fun to watch someone try doing both at the same time.