Movie review: 'Now You See Me' excites, before the script falls apart

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When cocky magician J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg) declares that "the closer you look, the less you see," he could be talking about the plot of "Now You See Me," a crackerjack heist thriller that is exciting in the moment but falls apart under scrutiny.

Atlas is one of four magicians — the others are mentalist Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson), street hustler Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) and Atlas' ex-assistant, escape artist Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher) — who team up in Las Vegas on a spectacular illusion in which they appear to rob a Paris bank.

When the bank turns out to be robbed for real, exasperated FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) and comely Interpol agent Alma Dray (Mélanie Laurent) end up partners on the case. Meanwhile, famed magic debunker Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman) noses around, matching insults with the foursome's financial backer, Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine).

Director Louis Leterrier ("The Incredible Hulk," "Clash of the Titans") keeps the story jumping for some lively chase scenes and clever magic shows — though most are augmented with special effects. It's only during the too-long finale that the wheels fall off and the script reveals itself to be not as smart as it pretends to be.; —


'Now You See Me'

Opens Friday, May 31, at theaters everywhere; rated PG-13 for language, some action and sexual content; 116 minutes.