2013 Running time: 116 Certificate: 12 Not yet rated

Synopsis

Four magicians - Woody Harrelson's mindreader, Isla Fisher's escapologist, Dave Franco's sleight-of-hand scammer and Jesse Eisenberg's illusionist - are recruited by a shadowy figure to form Las Vegas troupe 'The Four Horsemen'. Bankrolled by wealthy sponsor Michael Caine, they perform mindbending stunts that bring them to the attention of FBI agent Mark Ruffalo and myth debunker Morgan Freeman. The Incredible Hulk director Louis Leterrier uses cinematic smoke and mirrors to conjure up a crowd-pleasing adventure of hi-tech gaudiness.

Director

  • Louis Leterrier

Cast

  • Jesse Eisenberg

  • Dave Franco

  • Isla Fisher

  • Mark Ruffalo

  • Woody Harrelson

  • Morgan Freeman

  • Michael Caine

Review

Most cinema greats have imaginatively employed the conjuror's sleight of hand to suspend disbelief and make movie magic.

Unfortunately, director Louis Leterrrier is less Dynamo and more Paul Daniels with a glossily superficial yarn that elicits a shrug and a resigned 'meh' rather than awed incredulity.

A hooded mystery man assembles four commercial tricksters to form a troupe that specialises in using a grandstanding magic stunt to carry out a major crime - rob a bank, defraud an insurance company - and then shower the audience with cash.

Led by Jesse Eisenberg's snarky illusionist, they also include his fiery ex, escapologist Henley (Fisher), roguish con artist Jack (Franco) and 'mentalist', or mindreader - the American definition is obviously different to the British, Merritt (Harrelson).

Their first display of illusory chutzpah is a sparkling Las Vegas show whose centrepiece is the teleporting of a French audience member to his bank is central Paris...which has been cleaned out of Euros which then rain down on a stupefied crowd.

Naturally, this brings the quartet - known as the Four Horsemen - to the attention of frazzled FBI investigator Mark Ruffalo and his fetching French Interpol sidekick Alma (Mélanie Laurent) as well as Thaddeus Bradley (Freeman), a professional debunker of magic acts such as theirs.

What follows is a logic-defying tale where any amount of cinematic prestidigitation cannot disguise the clumsy manner in which the narrative is taped together and incompetently sprinkled with fairy dust. What sort of illusion really needs to be computer-generated?

The high star wattage is wasted on a dim-bulb story and the 'reveal' would have shamed even the late, great Tommy Cooper.

It ain't magic...but you do think you've been played.