Though not a recognized subgenre, the “magic thriller” may be catching on. While it certainly isn’t a popular theme used in many films now, 2006 saw both the stunning drama The Illusionist and Christopher Nolan’s under-rated revenge thriller The Prestige, both of which, while not making huge splashes at the box office, provided all the chills of a typical thriller while adding the smoke and mirrors of magic to make two very unique experiences.
Now You See Me does it again, proving that the “magical thriller” may be the next big subgenre. Blending magical elements to the crime caper subgenre to make a truly unique edge-of-your seat thriller that will keep you guessing until the very end, Now You See Me is not just slight-of-hand — it’s the real deal.
After years of performing solo magic acts, street magician J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), escape artist Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher), mentalist/hypnotist Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson), and slight-of-hand pick-pocket Jack Wilder (21 Jump Street’s Dave Franco) become The Four Horsemen, a stunning stage act that takes the world by storm when they rob a French bank on stage from Las Vegas.
Catching the attention of FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) and Interpol agent Alma Dray (Melanie Laurent), not to mention magic debunker Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman), The Four Horsemen find themselves on the run while planning their biggest illusion yet.
Director Louis Leterrier (The Incredible Hulk) and writers Boaz Yakin (Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time), Ed Solomon (Men In Black) and Edward Ricourt (feature film debut) make pure magic together. Leterrier’s wonderful eye for detail and thrilling cinematography (courtesy of Larry Fong and Mitchell Amundsen) and Solomon, Yakin, and Ricourt’s funny, nail-bitingly intense script provide plenty of entertainment from start to finish, as well as plenty of mystery.
Now You See Me may seem like the typical thriller from the trailers, but that’s simply misdirection. No film this year, let alone this Summer, offers this many thrills in a two-hour time frame, leading the audience on a trail of intrigue until the shocking conclusion of the film. The performances are solid, especially from Eisenberg, Harrelson, and Ruffalo, who manage to bring levity to the mystery, allowing for a greater pay-off in the end.
FINAL VERDICT: Now You See Me is the most unique thriller of the year, giving bigger chills, laughs and surprises than you will certainly see all Summer. With plenty of stunning magic displays and “How did they do that?” moments, Now You See Me will amazing and leave you awe-struck, making this easily one of the best films of the year.