Film of the Week: Now You See Me (12A) ****

Diane Keaton and Brendan Gleeson in Hampstead.

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Nothing is what it seems in Louis Letterier’s high-stakes game of cat and mouse between four crowd-pleasing Las Vegas illusionists and the FBI.

Every narrative twist could be a double-bluff, every failure a carefully orchestrated diversion and every flirtation a calculated exercise in audience manipulation.

Dave Franco as Jack Wilder, Jesse Eisenberg as J Daniel Atlas, Isla Fisher as Henley Reeves and Woody Harrelson as Merritt McKinney in Now You See Me.

Dave Franco as Jack Wilder, Jesse Eisenberg as J Daniel Atlas, Isla Fisher as Henley Reeves and Woody Harrelson as Merritt McKinney in Now You See Me.

The screenwriters hold all the aces and for the opening 30 minutes, their collective sleight of hand dazzles and intrigues in equal measure.

Alas, when it comes to the grand final illusion which takes up most of the second hour, director Letterier untethers the plot from plausibility and logic, allowing everything to teeter risibly on coincidence, physical improbability and outrageous good fortune.

We might just forgive the script its outlandishness if a tongue was wedged firmly in cheek, but the film is deadly serious about its jiggery pokery.

Close-up conjurer Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), escapologist Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher), mentalist Merrit McKinney (Woody Harrelson) and street magician Jack Wilder (Dave Franco), each receive a Tarot card bearing the same information: ‘March 29, 4:44pm 45 East Evan St. NY, NY.’

One year later, they are reborn as The Four Horsemen.

In front of a live audience, they choose an audience member at random and magically transport their stooge to a bank in Paris to raid millions from the vault.

With their sponsor Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine) and renowned sceptic Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman) watching in the aisles, they pull off this seemingly impossible feat.

Ignore the gaping plot holes and Now You See Me is a lot of fun.

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