Why has Now You See Me won out, in box office terms, against bigger stars and grander budgets to become a sleeper Stateside smash? Should we chalk it up to the Ruffalo Effect? Over on the internet – a place we've just learned about in The Internship – only porn eats up more bandwidth than "Hulk v Loki is awesome". Could Mark Ruffalo be pulling in key demographics?
Or perhaps less attentive Nolan- istas spotted Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine in the trailer and mistook this blustering heist flick as a Dark Knight companion piece?
Here's a radical thought. Maybe, just maybe, Now You See Me has attracted audiences because it's fun. Nobody gets to be moody. Nobody has to ponder what to do with their surplus powers. Nobody has to save anything or use their brain: especially not the audience.
Some very smart people – Fresh and Price Above Rubies screenwriter Boaz Yakin, Transporter 1 &2 director Louis Leterrier, Oscar winners Caine and Freeman – work awfully hard at making Now You See Me as dumb as possible. If they didn't, this magic caper simply wouldn't work.
A deliriously daft plot sees a quartet of Las Vegas magicians – Jesse Eisenberg, Dave Franco, Isla Fisher and Woody Harrelson – pitch their wits against murkily defined law enforcers Ruffalo and Mélanie Laurent. As with any good trick, Now You See Me demands that we sit back and make like rubes. How else might we roll along with the film's increasingly implausible schemes and diversions?
Guff lies ahoy. We're treated to scenes in and around Mardi Gras and chatter about locks on bridges. Laurent repeatedly warns her colleague about a grander conspiracy of conjurers known as The Eye and a legacy that dates back to ancient Egypt. Ruffalo and Freeman (the latter playing a professional TV sceptic and magic debunker) keep at least one eyebrow raised.Viewers, in theory, keep on washing down their popcorn with Kool Aid.
The smoke and mirrors do indeed keep us amused. The A-listers and capable thesps are only here for show: blink and you’ll miss some of them. This is a film about razzle dazzle composed entirely – and appropriately – from razzle dazzle. Never mind the logic, here comes the largess of huge stages, multiple international locations and Brian Tyler’s incessant score.