“Now You See Me” — Hollywood movies and magic shows have something in common: You pay your money, and you want to believe. And going into “Now You See Me,” a magic-themed heist movie with a terrific cast, you really want to believe. The idea is fresh, the introductory scenes enticing. But then the dialogue turns formulaic, the plot gets increasingly illogical, and character development grinds to a halt. It’s too bad, because the film has a great premise. Four professional illusionists are called together by a mysterious leader. Jesse Eisenberg is the cocky sleight-of-hand wizard who likes to run things and take all the credit. Isla Fisher is an escape artist. Woody Harrelson is a wise-cracking hypnotist, and Dave Franco (yes, brother of James) a talented street magician. When the team seemingly robs a Paris bank in real time during a magic show in Las Vegas, it catches the attention of a rough-edged FBI agent (Mark Ruffalo), who swigs liquor and coffee and Alka-Seltzer, partnered by a winsome French Interpol agent oddly named Alma Dray (Melanie Laurent.) Also on the trail: Morgan Freeman, having a good time in the role of a former magician who’s now a reality host who exposes other magicians, and Michael Caine, a presumed benefactor of the team. Ruffalo does the most with his character and gets the best lines; the others are somewhat wasted. You’ll smile at the enjoyable final reveal, absurd as it is. But you won’t be feeling much magic. PG-13 for language, some action and sexual content. 116 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.
— Jocelyn Noveck, AP National Writer