Ridiculously Ruffaloed – ★★½
In preparing to watch Louis Letterier’s new film Now You See Me, you should remember two terms. First up, “caper” which the time-wasting tunnel known as wikipedia describes as…
The typical caper story involves one or more crimes (especially thefts, swindles, or occasionally kidnappings) perpetrated by the main characters in full view of the audience.
The second thing you need to be primed for is something known as “plot twist”. The film is about criminal magicians with twists are turns being hinted at, even promised, in all of the film’s marketing, so it’s hardly a spoiler to say that everything goes mad in the final ten minutes.
Right, so a caper with a twist, sounds fun! Is it?
A quartet of magicians (Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco) are brought together to perform a big Las Vegas stage show whose bombastic closing act involves the audience helping them to rob a bank. Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) and Dray (Mélanie Laurent) are the two police detectives assigned to make sense of it all- Laurent for Interpol obviously. The two wild cards in the mix are Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman as two competing elder statesmen of the industry who are there to try and add a little gravitas to proceedings.
The film is pretty damn farcical at times with everyone giving larger than life performances and guys like Ruffalo and Harrelson knowing where they are and opting to really ham it up. There are a couple of lines and entire scenes where you’ll just burst out laughing at how ridiculous it is, but you’re questioning if that was the intention of the film-makers. If you’re looking for authenticity in your representation of Vegas magic shows then you’ll be disappointed as Leterrier circumvents any desire for realism and loads the film with questionable CGI and impossible tricks. But, the whole thing is done with such a sense of fun that who cares if it’s all a bit ridiculous and doesn’t really add up. When the ending arrives, you’ll either be sitting there completely indifferent or left open-mouthed and with a sense of “yeah, I guess that works!”.
Eisenberg plays himself as usual and brings no surprises while Caine and Freeman successfully cash another auto-pilot cheque. The most under-used asset is Dave Franco who gets very little to do before seemingly disappearing altogether without anyone making much of a fuss. The star of the show is almost certainly Ruffalo whose finest moment comes during a trip to New Orleans during Mardi Gras (naturally) when he has a minor freak-out while chasing our intrepid magicians through crowds who are just trying to enjoy the city’s big party.
The bottom line is that Now You See Me is never boring or offensive and while it doesn’t stand up to much critical scrutiny, you have to remember it’s only really meant to be a bit of exciting, dumb, escapist fun. Mission accomplished.