A year after forming, and now titled collectively as The Four Horsemen -- with Daniel's former assistant turned pro Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher) and up-and-comer Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) rounding out the group -- they find a backer in the wealthy Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine), but are soon are on the radar of the authorities. The conclusion of their latest show finds them seemingly robbing a bank in Paris, showering the money on the audience, and doing it all without leaving their Las Vegas stage. It isn't long until the FBI and Interpol -- represented by Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) and Alma Dray (Melanie Laurent) respectively -- are hot on their tail, eager to arrest them for what's clearly a crime, but unable to prove just how they did it. All they can do is track them from gig to gig, where their illusions get even grander, and potentially more illegal, trying to finally decipher how they are pulling these capers off. And it's not just the feds who have an interest in exposing them -- so too does Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman), who makes his living revealing the tricks of the trade, and hopes figuring out the methods of The Four Horseman can earn him his biggest payday yet.
Most notably, "Now You See Me" often falls prey to lengthy flashback-and-exposition sequences to update the audience on where we are in terms of the story, alliances, background information and secrets that need to be clarified before things can move ahead. And moreover, once it's revealed how The Four Horsemen pulled off some of these jobs, they strain credulity near to the breaking point, especially when the goal of their endeavour finally divulged. It's hard to believe this much effort, risk and planning went into a long con, where the payoff for the four...well, you'll soon discover it yourself. And this need for the script to constantly be resetting the storyline, leaves the characters somewhat one note and adrift. Part of this is in service of the illusion-like narrative, which has more than a bit of purposeful misdirection throughout, but it still leaves pretty much everyone playing types instead of characters, though this cast certainly helps fill in some of the blanks.
...but when it's all unveiled... it doesn't quite add up on close scrutiny, though it's commendable for keeping the big reveal as contained as long as it does. But the story doesn't seem to know when the trick has finished and the movie tags on one too many endings (including a somewhat forced suggestion that leaves a door open for a sequel, which seems to be requisite these days), including a romantic angle that is too undercooked to deserve as much play as it gets. However, "Now You See Me" does also earn some marks for being something of a rarity in the blockbuster field -- it's interesting to note that unlike many summer movies this year, this is one that doesn't lean on heavy CGI, superheroes or explosions (indeed, the only "action sequence" here is a car chase). And Leterrier's film is a reminder that sometimes a good yarn can do enough heavy lifting on its own to provide thrills. Whether or not the illusion pays off will be up to you, but the trick itself may be intriguing enough. [B-]