Monday, June 3, 2013

Now You See Me (2013)

I actually saw Now You See Me several days ago, but I had a detour in Las Vegas, where money magically disappeared from my wallet.  While in Vegas I thought about the last movie based on magicians I saw, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, which was set in Vegas, whereas Now You See Me varies the locale throughout the film.

Despite having a few days to reflect on the film, I find I don't have that much more to say about it, or that my opinion has changed all that much.  I did, however, realize that despite that Now You See Me wasn't a comedy, I actually laughed more than I did while watching Burt Wonderstone.

Now You See Me is an example of a movie that I was expecting to be so awful that I'm probably giving this a little more credit than I should simply because it wasn't a disaster.  The setup alone was already something that was making me cringe a little.  Four magicians of various skill sets - played by Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, Woody Harrelson - are brought together by an unknown benefactor.  A year after meeting they perform in Vegas rebranded as "The Four Horsemen".  During their performance, they are able to rob a bank in Paris, giving the money back to the audience in attendance.

FBI Agent Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) is brought in to investigate along with Interpol Agent Vargas (Mélanie Laurent).  They aren't able to make anything stick to the Four Horsemen, and charging them with the crime would indicate that the FBI now believes in magic.  Knowing there's an explanation for all of this, Rhodes and Vargas meets with Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman), and ex-magician that makes a living by exposing the secrets of other magicians.  Bradley explains to Rhodes how they pulled off the first trick, but that the Four Horsemen have been planning for a long time and will likely always be a step ahead of the FBI.

You'll find that the story spends more time focusing on Mark Ruffalo's and his Keystone Cops antics than the Horsemen.  His character also seemed to be excessively angry at times, although some of that made a little sense by the end of the film.  Overall, the plot gets little muddled as it goes on and inconsistencies pop up.  I felt like resolution of the film wasn't very satisfying and a few things were left unanswered.  Oddly, this didn't bug me that much, and that's probably due to the fact that I had enjoyed the movie so much up until that point, that a few inconsistencies weren't enough to ruin it for me.

The main reason why I enjoyed the film so much is that the dialog is actually very snappy and funny.  I was really expecting a much more serious film, so the humor was a pleasant surprise.  The pace of the film is also very brisk with more action and chases than I expected.  I didn't realize going into Now You See Me that it was directed by Louis Leterrier, who's directed films like the first two Transporter films and Unleashed.  It looks like he went into his bag of tricks to add some action elements and it served the film well.  You know what I just realized?  Louis Leterrier directed Edward Norton's The Incredible Hulk, and directed Mark Ruffalo in this film, who was The Avengers' Hulk.  Does mean we should expect Eric Bana in Leterrier's next film?

Another really strong element of the film was that there's great chemistry between the Four Horseman.  The cast, especially Woody Harrelson, seemed to be having a lot of fun together and you really feel that on screen.  Despite the good chemistry, there's not a lot of character development.  At the end of the film, we really don't know nothing about this group of people. Again, I wasn't terribly upset by this, but fleshing out the foursome would have been nice.

Now You See Me is a surprisingly entertaining film, that has a great pace, funny dialog, and a good cast that plays well off each other.  The story is definitely the weak point, but I think you'll have enough fun with the film that you won't notice or bug you too much.  I think it's worth a matinee.

3 (out of 5) Death Stars


  1. Good review Erik. It's definitely a lot more fun and entertaining than I may make it out to be but still, I can't help but feel I was a bit cheated at the end.

    1. Thanks, Dan. The more I think about the ending, the more I realize how it really kind of ruins the whole film. I guess it's a good thing I found it entertaining up until that point.

  2. Good Review! If it didn't try so hard to be smart it would be more enjoyable. I didn't really take it seriously so I had fun though.

    1. Thanks, Erik. If I hadn't had so much fun with the film about 3/4ths of the way though, I think that last 1/4th really would have killed it for me.