Now You See Me
by Justin Jasso (@jjasso007)
Have you ever edged in a little closer at a magic show to pay better attention to what is going on in the hopes of finding the slight, only to feel that much more foolish when you are still fooled? Louis Leterrier (Clash of the Titans, The Incredible Hulk, Transporter 2) brings to the big screen a new look at one of the oldest professions in history; that of the masters of misdirection: magicians. Now You See Me is a new take on the art form, and with a fast-paced and high energy approach, the slight plot holes are disregarded due to the amount of fun you’re having.
The movie begins with a flashback introducing the four main characters: Stage magician J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg); Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson), a “mentalist” who was once a big name; Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher), Atlas’ former assistant and now escape artist; and conman and small-time trickster Jack Wilder (Dave Franco). They are all brought together by Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine) under the group name “The Four Horsemen,” and are the biggest thing currently on the Vegas strip. Their first big trick we’re privy to is robbing a bank in France while standing on stage in Las Vegas. It garners the attention of former magician and magic debunker Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman), but also that of the FBI, and against his will, agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) is put on the case along with Interpol agent Alma Dray (Melanie Laurent). However, this is only the Four Horsemen’s first act of three in their grand scheme.
Louis Leterrier is known for making action films, so a foray into “magic” is a little out of his comfort zone. However, he does surprisingly well trimming the fat on the film. There isn’t a whole lot of downtime as the story continues to move along at a brisk pace. The near two hour runtime doesn’t feel nearly like two hours. With only a few real action sequences (a car chase and a couple of foot chases), one would think there would be more exposition, but the story is written well, despite a few flaws and plot holes, leaving us well-entertained.
In terms of performances, it is definitely an ensemble effort, although a little more screen time is given to Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson. Jesse and Woody bring charisma and levels to their characters, despite being given less than ideal material. Dave Franco and Isla Fisher are less focused on and their characters are relatively flat throughout. Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman definitely don’t stretch their acting chops in this film, but earn their paychecks nonetheless, and Mark Ruffalo performs well in his turn as an FBI agent.
The main problem with Now You See Me is that the third act doesn’t live up to the level of the previous two acts of the film. A movie such as this, especially dealing with magic, is going to have some major plot twist and reveal in the third act. While the reveal at the end is something I didn’t see coming necessarily (though if I had paid a little more attention, I could have possibly guessed it), it’s not as epic as it should have been considering the ride we’ve been on. The whole reason why the Four Horsemen have done what they have done is stated but there is no elaboration, which leaves the audience scratching their heads and feeling a little let down. But in the end, we’ve been on this two hour adventure with these characters, and it’s been a fun ride, so we can forgive the writers for not explaining everything, right?
Now You See Me, despite a few story gripes, brings back the allusion of magic that we were amazed by as children and are still today, provided you’re able to see a magic show. (It’s made me want to take out my old decks of cards and perform again.) While the movie is definitely worth your time, I wonder how long it will be relevant with films like Man of Steel, Monster’s University, World War Z, and This is the End all opening soon. With these big budget summer blockbusters all but here, it’s in your best interest to attend this show before the magic runs out and disappears from theaters.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars