Movies about magicians aren't exactly a prolific bunch. After The Prestige and The Illusionist brought back the notion that this type of movie could be done well, it's been a relatively slow and bare track record for the topic ever since.
Then comes Now You See Me, easily one of the most random movies to come out this year so far, with its all-star cast and its silly premise and, after an impressive performance at the box-office, it looks like magic is most definitely back in business.
I blame Arrested Development's fourth season.
Speaking of which, this is essentially "Gob Bluth: The Movie": it takes itself somewhat seriously (as a heist thriller at least) and thinks it's super clever but it's just so ludicrous that chances are it'll generate more lols than genuine, intentional laughs. The film sees Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Jesse Eisenberg and Dave Franco play magicians, each with their own area of expertise, who all meet through a mysterious entity who may or may not be using them to steal cash from banks and plot some shady supervillainous masterplan. The FBI is called in to investigate and the whole film is a race to the reveal with Mark "Too Good To Be In This Movie" Ruffalo at the helm, leading the FBI to the truth. Oh, that French girl from Inglourious Basterds plays an agent from Interpol but she's reduced to a red herring/tacked-on love interest, her scenes tend to kill the film's pace unfortunately. To add even more names to the cast, Dark Knight Trilogy veterans Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine are in it too, both playing somewhat against-type roles (the former's far more convincing than the latter here, by the way).
I guess this is the closest we'll ever get to a Dark Knight/Zombieland crossover...
Anyway, the whole idea of FBI vs magicians is certainly silly enough to make you question how dramatically valid this movie is almost instantly, and the film itself only serves to underline all that. After all, this is a flick in which magicians are portrayed as cool and hip superheroes with superhuman abilities. The fact that a lot of magicians and a lot of card tricks are actually pretty lame is never even brought up. No, in this world: magicians are the shit. They're modern day genius rockstars with special powers and they're totally raaaaaad! The plot is set into motion when it turns out that our naughty magicians have, in fact, really robbed a bank. OR HAVE THEY?! They have, it's just the FBI aren't exactly sure of how or why. The film is a bit confusing at first since we're introduced to characters we assume are our main players when in fact, they're only really supporting Ruffalo's FBI agent. To give Now You See Me credit, though, things do pick up soon enough and it keeps the action going more or less non-stop until the curtain call. The movie is pretty darn entertaining and as goofy as it is, it's hard not to crack a smile at Dave Franco's "ninja magic" fighting skills, Harrelson's OTT mentalist techniques, Jesse Eisenberg's fake mustache or Isla Fisher's WTF bubble trick.
All in all, though Now You See Me may not be the smartest or most sensible film you'll see this year, it's certainly worth a watch if all you're looking for is a good laugh at (and with) a truly cartoonish, why-does-it-even-exist?-type of movie.
One card short of a full deck but tricky enough to work as a fun, mindless piece of fluff.
*makes bubble with his mind*