As I prefer to give spoiler free reviews as much as possible, this film presents an interesting challenge. How do you review a movie about magicians and their tricks without giving the slightest hint about what is inside? I don’t have the luxury of misdirection and slight of hand. I would tell you the closer you are the less you see, but this is a text medium and you see everything that I write and can interpret it as you see fit.
Director Louis Leterrier (Transporter, Clash Of Titans) brings us the tale of four street magicians trying to make it big. We have the talents of Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Dave “We couldn’t get his older brother” Franco, and Jesse “Not Michael Cera” Eisenberg as the aforementioned magicians. They have come together for a heist of what we can only assume is epic proportions. Hot on their trail is the FBI, Interpol, the 1% and a professional debunker.
Lets talk about the acting a bit, the four magicians all play their parts well. They deliver on their promises and keep you wondering what is real and what is not. In this they succeed. If you are looking for character growth or depth, I hear that Joss Whedons “Much Ado About Nothing” comes out next week. Then there is the FBI Agent, the now famous Mark Ruffalo (The Hulk in the Avengers), who plays his part admirably; which is to say frustrated, annoyed and always a few steps in the wrong direction.
Interpol is played by relative newcomer, Mélanie Laurent, who sadly lacks any form of chemistry with Ruffalo and largely ends up as window dressing. Then we have Morgan “Is my voice epic enough” Freeman playing a magician turned debunker. It’s entirely possible they cast him for his expositional abilities. He too is after our four maverick magicians for his own reasons. Freemans confidence and usual swagger, along with the writing keep his character an interesting part of the game being played in the roughly two hour running time.
The movies largest flaw is the Director of Photography feeling the need to do spinning 360 camera shots incessantly. I am truly boggled at the Director/DP need to use tricks of the camera that people have been complaining about for years now. Shaky Cam and Spin Cam are nauseating and do not actually bring you into the action of the film. If he was deliberately trying to be disorienting, then he succeeded, disgustingly so.
SO where does this review leave us for the TL;DRs out there?
If you want to know the trick, want to see it play out? The grand scheme?
See it, matinee would be fine.
If you weren’t the least bit curious, you can give this a pass til Redbox or Netflix.
I was entertained for my two hours, I had a good discussion on the film and its characters and their motivations. I believe that is what a movie should deliver at the end of the trick and it does. It doesn’t take a mentalist to see through it; so come in close and stay for the trick.