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The tricky thing about writing reviews for movies built on surprises and twists is describing the movie without giving away the plot. You don’t want to spoil the reader’s fun. But when it comes to an utter failure like “Now You See Me,” I have no such qualms. The twist at the end doesn’t make you rethink everything you just saw, it makes you rethink your decision to waste two hours watching it. The premise is this: a team of four magicians, pick pockets and hypnotists are recruited to form a super team of performers, who use lavish shows in Vegas and New Orleans to rob banks and billionaires and give the money to their audiences in outlandishly public ways. This attracts the attention of the FBI, and Agent Rhodes, played with gruff exasperation by Mark Ruffalo, gives chase, accompanied by a (surprise!) beautiful French agent assigned by Interpol (because the magicians robbed a French bank). The true motives of the Four Horsemen (as the team is called) are not known, nor do we know the identity of their benefactor. Various suspects are supplied, including a former magician-turned-debunker Morgan Freeman. As the stunts become more elaborate and the chase scenes more frenzied and desperate, the tension builds and the movie blows up like a balloon, promising a big reveal. But instead of achieving lift off, or even popping in some novel way, it leaks away like a sad flatulence. The mastermind behind the heists was Ruffalo’s FBI agent, who all along, for reasons unexplained, gave the appearance of trying to catch the crooks while bankrolling them. His motive? Some vague revenge for the death of his magician father (How the son of a famous magician gets assigned the FBI’s first magician-bank robbery case without anyone noticing is only one of the dozens of  holes and flaws in the movie). The Four Horsemen, who never progress past their snappy banter into real people, achieve some sort of magician Nirvana and ride away on a mystical carousel (really). The movie ends, insipidly, with Ruffalo and the French agent declaring their love on the Pont Des Arts (the bridge with the cheesy locks) in Paris. But the movie’s biggest problem isn’t the improbable twist that Ruffalo was pulling the strings – in the hands of a gifted director, it could have been sold. (Think of Christopher Nolan’s “The Prestige” as a template for how to make this sort of movie work).  It’s that “Now You See Me” makes no attempt to sell it. Instead of rewinding the camera to show the clues we missed, we get a halfhearted shrug, as if it couldn’t be bothered to try. It’s like a botched magic trick: a lot of razzle dazzle before the magicians flubs the finale.

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