What a waste of a fun premise! Now You See Me is a summer movie in the grand tradition of overblown big-budget heist/caper pictures like The Italian Job, Oceans 11, Sneakers, Inside Man, Tower Heist and countless others. The high-concept twist of this picture is that it is about four elite magicians who pull off elaborate crimes in front of a live audience! But director Louis Leterrier (the man at the helm of the recent remakes of The Incredible Hulk and Clash of the Titans) shoots the film at a breakneck pace that never slows down to let the audience catch its breath--which is essential to enjoying any kind of ride. The script by a threesome that includes Ed Soloman (writer of Men in Black, Charlie's Angels, Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure) is a half-baked mess of cliché dialogue and empty-headed plot twists.
Of course movies like this don’t need to be masterpieces, they just need to be exciting, funny and a little surprising. They are always over-crammed with big stars playing one-note characters, but we are supposed to get several memorable scenes in which these famous actors play their one note in a virtuosic way that only they can perfectly execute. I guess producers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci forgot to mention that to the team they were overseeing--perhaps they were too busy with their myriad other major projects like writing Transformers, Cowboys & Aliens, Watchmen, Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness. Now You See Me isn’t even as good as any of those sub-par pictures and it so easily could have been. This is a very difficult genre to do badly but these folks certainly have pulled it off.