I was going to make a magician joke, but that wouldn’t be good.  Much like this movie.

I will say, it does have the occasional fun times scattered throughout.  This is such a weirdly constructed film though.  It’s also a very dumb film, and one I can’t really recommend (unless you’re looking for a Saturday morning getaway, then by all means, enjoy).

Where to begin?  It has a overly long prologue introducing our main characters, of which all you really need to remember is what their specialty is.  Daniel Atlas (Eisenberg) is the illusionist, Henley Reeves (Fisher) is the escape artist, Jack Wilder (Franco, Dave) is the pick pocket, and Merritt McKinney (Harrison) is the mentalist.  The four of them are brought together to perform a massive show as the Four Horsemen, backed by Arthur Tressler (Caine), a guy with a lot of money.  Thaddeus Bradley (Freeman) is a guy who knows the tricks of the show.  Dylan Rhodes (Ruffalo) is the FBI agent assigned to bring down the magicians (it’s a caper film, plus a couple other things), and Alma Vargas (Laurent) is the Interpol agent sent to help with the case.  Cue magic acts, chases, and so many twists and turns, including one barely hinted at at all and emphasized by the mentalist character at the end with “We didn’t see that one coming!” because no one did.

It’s also an exasperating film at times too.  The structure is weird: there’s a massive magic trick, and then there’s the long exposition about said magic trick (the Vegas set occupies a lot of said exposition); rinse and repeat.  The film slows to a crawl when it’s just talk and flashbacks and reveals.  There’s no sense of flow or tension here.  The FBI are so thoroughly inept in this film, which I’m sure it could be handily explained away with the final reveal but it’s frustrating when they just can’t do anything of any worth.  It’s like Keystone cops on steroids.  And don’t get me started on the non-character that was Agent Vargas, who gets thoroughly insulted multiple times by Rhodes and still finds time to fall in love with him by the end.

There’s also the CGI usage in the film, and while it’s not exasperating, its usage almost throws the film into fantasy.  The Vegas set piece, for example, has Reeves pulling out curtains from her sleeves before revealing a really large contraption in the middle of their stage.  The New Orleans set and the New York City set has these odd CGI things as well.  There are plenty of practical stuff, which is good, but all magic in general has a grounding in reality, not matter how outlandish the trick is.  The CGI makes some of these things impossible.

So no, this really isn’t a good at all.  The characters are one-dimension, the structure is not good, and the endless twists and red herrings are too much.  It’s occasionally fun, but I can’t recommend a film that’s “occasionally fun”.

 

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