June 5, 2013
This film opened as a low key movie release locally. However, I kept reading praises about it from social media, I resolved to give it a try and see it for myself. I had a lot of fun watching, and I believe, so will you.
The fascinating premise of the film begins even before the opening credits. We meet four talented magicians who had been summoned by a mysterious hooded stranger who left them each a invitation card marked by an eye design at the backs. A year later, they were the toast of Vegas, calling themselves the Four Horsemen, staging big elaborate magic shows. One performance, they picked a Frenchman "randomly" from the audience to create the illusion that he had robbed a bank in Paris. Police and Interpol get involved when money really disappeared from that bank!
That incredibly staged heist is only the beginning of a puzzling roller coaster ride of a film that will keep you wondering to the very end. Director Louis Leterrier (whose debut was "Transporter" in 2002) has executed a very energetic, intelligent and most importantly, entertaining film.
The actors were all so eager, smart and funny in their roles. Jesse Eisenberg is believable as an arrogant control freak street illusionist. Woody Harrelson as a down-on-his-luck mentalist is outstandingly hilarious. Isla Fisher has gone a long way from her awkward debut in that Scooby Doo film. Just when you thought Dave Franco (younger brother of James) is just a minor player in all this, he will surprise us with an exciting fight scene and car chase.
And on the other side, Mark Ruffalo is just so right as the harassed police officer who always seemed to be two steps behind the magicians. Veterans Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman add their cool credibility to the mix, as they always do to any film they are associated with.
While it is a pity that we do not get to meet the four magicians more in depth, and some of the illusions and action stunts were too impossible (and too CG), I think we can overlook and forgive those little quibbles. Do not think too hard and over-analyze about the twists and turns this film takes you on (especially in the final minutes), just sit back and enjoy the fun ride while it lasts. It is, after all, all about magic. 8/10.