People have been saying for years that Hollywood has run out of ideas, and it really is true. Pretty much everything that is released nowadays is either a sequel, remake or reboot. Those that aren’t are more or less new variations on the same old stories. So, when a movie comes around that is even semi-original, it should be embraced no matter how mediocre it may be. Luckily, this magician/heist dramedy is actually pretty good.
J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson), Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher) and Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) are master magicians, each with expertise in a specific area (card tricks, mind control, etc). A mysterious figure brings them all together with a plan: stage the most spectacular magic shows ever seen, but use them them as a front to commit bank heists. They prove to be incredibly successful, so much so that they have the FBI and an investigator dedicated to exposing magician secrets.
The cast for this movie is first rate, but if I have one complaint it’s that Eisenberg is such a smug jackass that it makes it hard to root for the “good guys”. He seems to have found the type of role he’s best at and ran with it. The problem is that it makes him intolerable at times. The rest of the cast fares much better, and when you have pros like Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine involved, that is to be expected.
As for the film itself, it holds up fairly well until it conclusion. The big reveal at the end comes so far out of nowhere and makes so little sense that it takes away some of the impact. But the first ninety percent makes up for it.
If you’re looking for something different to watch during the big budget summer move season, you can do much worse than this. Sure, there’s been heist movies and magician movies before, but putting the two sub-genres together works quite well. Just be warned, it’s not exactly the comedy it has been marketed as.