There have been great Con movies like “Matchstick Men”, “Ocean’s Eleven”, “The Unusual Suspects” and there have been great movies based on magic “The Illusionist”, “The Prestige”, but there was none that combined the two. So, this movie held a lot of promise. And with the leads being Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson, co-stars from the epic “Zombieland”, the promos did suggest that this would be the underdog movie of the week!
What’s it about?
Four road-side tricksters are summoned by a mysterious EYE to a lonely apartment for a mission. And before you can guess what is happening, the story magically jumps a year ahead and you see the 4 performing in Las Vegas. “The Four Horsemen”, as they are called now, declare that they are going to pull off the trick of the century i.e. Rob a Bank while they are performing! The claim is spell-binding and the audience is left amazed.
How could 4 magicians in Las Vegas rob a bank in France? An FBI agent (Mark Ruffalo) and Interpol agent (Melanie Laurent) come together to solve this mystery. Will they get to the bottom of this? Who is the mysterious EYE that summoned the 4 magicians? And what has an ex-magician (Morgan Freeman), who makes money by selling other magician’s secrets, have to do with this? You would have to see it to find out.
The basic premise of the film is in itself a winner. Add the grandeur of the intent to that of the magic on stage and you are left all starry eyed. The screenplay is brisk and you do not have too much time to think. Louis Leterrier, the director of Transporter 1&2 and the Incredible Hulk, is quiet adept in keeping you on your feet. The slick production value and the tongue-in-cheek humour keeps you interested.
What doesn’t work:
The problem is in the way the plot unfolds. For a film that claims to be a smart caper, it does not have too much beyond what meets the eye! And the director relies on visual trickery rather than logic to fool you. The 4 magicians have underdeveloped characters and actually play clichéd roles. Jesse Eisenberg remains the cocky motor-mouth he was in “The Social Network”, Woody Allen remains the irritating comedian he has always been and Mark Ruffalo continues to be the brooding, angry old guy. Every time they do a trick, you are quickly told how it was done and there is no anticipation that really builds. If you look at any successful con film, there is always a mission, the plan, the execution, the fall and finally, the real con! But here, you know the claims would be astounding but there is no plan, no build up, just the execution and the unravelling of the same. And frankly, when you see the rabbit being pulled out of the hat, you want to strangle it!
The question is - “To Watch or not to Watch?”
If you enjoy visual trickery and the basic premise of the film, you might as well watch it because it’s your best bet this week in the theatres. But, if you are a con-film enthusiast then beware. There are gaping plot holes through which all logic disappears and the director just fools you with sleight of camera! Yes, the trick’s on you.
A hopeless FILMantic, a sit-down comic, a cereal killer, chicken lover, who Copys for a living, really!
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