Friday, May 31, 2013

Now You See Me (2013)

Director: Louis Leterrier
Notable Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, Mark Ruffalo, Melanie Laurent, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine

I'm all about a good mystery flick. A thoughtful mystery caper with style and a pinch of action courtesy of director Louis Leterrier? With a cast like that? "Now You See Me" was a film that had a lot going for it, but because it focused on magicians and a plot to rob banks while on stage it felt like it was either going to be brilliant or a disaster. If you would consider it lucky, the film does manage to be decently entertaining with tons of energy and a slick style to make it a great popcorn flick. Like many other popcorn flicks though, the film most certainly rides on that energy and chemistry the entire time and in hindsight, "Now You See Me" ends up being a rather hollow and incohesive film experience.

When the Four Horsemen (Eisenberg, Fisher, Harrelson, Franco) arrive on the magic scene as a team each with a valuable talent/skill in magic, they seem to be the biggest thing to happen. When the four of them rob a French bank while on stage in Las Vegas, it gets law enforcement nervous. That's when they send Rhodes (Ruffalo) in to investigate. With the help of an INTERPOL agent (Laurent) and an ex-magician who sells their secrets (Freeman), Rhodes will have to start thinking two steps ahead of a team of magicians who seem to be able to predict every move.

Much prettier than the four horsemen looks I would have expected.
There is definitely an element of 'cinematic' entertainment to "Now You See Me." I say cinematic specifically because director Leterrier adds enough glitz, glamor, and style that this film definitely feels like a summer blockbuster. It has a massive globe trotting plot of a slew of characters, mostly cast with A-listers, and the visual effects are top notch. The characters have pretty strong chemistry and there's moments of wit that made the film fun. Hell, there was even a pretty stellar action sequence in the second act with a pretty effective escape fight and car chase. If you look at "Now You See Me" it's a perfectly accessible film that hits all the basic points to be entertaining and fun.

Yes. Fire. It's like magic.
...the problem then remains is that "Now You See Me" is the kind of film that is fine when you aren't thinking about it. After the fact though, this film ends up being one of very little depth and almost no sense to the plot. After the first act, which I quite enjoyed, the movie then kicks into high gear rapidly careening through locals and mystery plot points as we switch to the FBI Agent for a protagonist. Here, the film seemingly loses its foundational humor and charm (including abandoning our leading magicians to be plot devices then true characters) and becomes a ridiculously overlarge Scooby-Doo whodunit mystery. While the action and pacing is lightning fast, the film would have been better off to take its time with pushing tension and suspense rather than blitzing the audience with its overzealous style and non-sensible red-herrings ill-explained "coincidences" required to even buy that this will all work out in the end. The beauty of true magicians is that we are meant to believe it is real despite what we are seeing. "Now You See Me" never, ever feels like it could remotely be real and thus loses "the magic."

Ironically, I felt like the smartest man in the room by the end of the movie.
That being said, for a summer popcorn flick I can think of a lot worse films. It's fun, the action was a nice surprise, and it has its fair share of fun moments (although the bubble sequence was headache inducing). Unfortunately, for a film that is supposed to be a mystery thriller at its core its not all that thrilling and the mystery is completely daft half the time. Give it or leave it the film wasn't offensive, but it didn't impress either. I would suggest a rental before purchase.

Written By Matt Reifschneider

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