Jul 2, 2014

Review: Now You See Me (2013)

Now You See Me definitely has an interesting premise, something like an Ocean's movie but with magicians. The cast is also pretty stacked in terms of talented actors with Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson and many more. With the stage set though, is Now You See Me simply a case of all show and no go?

French director Louis Leterrier inspires perhaps a little bit of confidence. Transporter 2, well really the whole Transporter series is a guilty pleasure of mine but I guess it doesn't really matter who directs it. Those are Luc Besson's films. The Incredible Hulk with Edward Norton wasn't bad if you ask me but then Clash of the Titans...yeesh. Unleashed was actually kind of interesting so at least we know that Leterrier can utilize Morgan Freeman properly.


Genre: crime, mystery, thriller
Directed by: Louis Leterrier
Produced by: Bobby Cohen, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci
Written by: Ed Solomon, Boaz Yakin, Edward Ricourt
Music by: Brian Tyler
Running time: 125 minutes
Production company: K/O Paper Products, SOIXAN7E QUIN5E, See Me Louisiana, etc.
Distributed by: Summit Entertainment, SND, E1 Films Canada, etc.
Country: United States, France
Language: English
Budget: $75,000,000
Box office: $351,723,989 (Worldwide)

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, Mélanie Laurent, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Michael Kelly, Common, José Garcia, Elias Koteas, Caitriona Balfe, Jessica Lindsey


Zed (Eric Stoltz) arrives in Paris to meet up with an old friend who has a plan up his sleeve. Eric (Jean Hughes-Anglade) is planning on robbing a bank and needs Zed's safe cracking skills. When Zed arrives at his hotel, he calls a prostitute by the name of Zoe (Julie Delpy) over who he somehow makes a deep connection during his time with her. This is right before Eric shows up and rudely kicks her out of the hotel room. The heist is supposed to take place the next day. Eric and his entire crew take Zed out for a night on the town with the promise of good times before their big day.


The film opens with an introduction to four skilled magicians of different kinds. Danny Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg is primarily an illusionist, Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson) is a mentalist, Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher) is an escape artist and Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) is a pickpocket. All four are mysteriously united together to form the Four Horsemen who put on a series of magic shows. The piece de resistence is a trick where they somehow rob a bank that gets the attention of FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) and Interpol agent Alma Dray (Mélanie Laurent).

The script isn't awful but overall it's mediocre. There seems to be a lot of unanswered questions at the end of Now You See Me and I think that it's simply a case of leaving space for a sequel which is pretty disappointing if you ask me. The movie goes into flashbacks often enough to reveal what really happened during a trick but the original scenes were not that interesting to begin with so everything just feels stale and overdone.

Being overdone is probably the number one fault of Now You See Me. It aspires to be a stylish magician romp but just comes off as the collar-popping asshole who drives a Dodge Nitro. The camera seems to suffer from ADD and can't seem to stop spinning around and around its target. There are several instances of mediocre CGI that make the film feel very assisted and not very real which is important because some of the magic tricks are just ruined as a result.

In terms of the characters, all the actors are basically just playing versions of characters we've already seen them play. That'd be OK if it weren't for the fact that it sounds like the scriptwriters were trying to make every line of the movie useable for a movie trailer. It's a really strange effect and doesn't let any of the Four Horsemen develop any sort of camaraderie with each other. They're all just trying to sound cooler. The two agents that Ruffalo and Laurent feel a little more natural if extremely cliché.
Additionally, the little romance they get at the end is so tacked on and unnecessary. It feels like the order came directly from the suits once they saw the script because we movewatchers just can't stand movies without kissing right?
Now You See Me doesn't have any worthwhile cards hidden up its sleeve. Michael Caine is also extremely poorly utilized in an embarrassing confrontation with Morgan Freeman that made me feel awful. There's too much that's left unsolved and the big reveal is disappointing to say the least. Now You See Me will beat you over the head with all of its style but you'll starve looking for any substance.




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