Now You See Me
Cast: J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo), Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson), Alma Dray (Mélanie Laurent), Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher), Jack Wilder (Dave Franco), with Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine) and Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman)
Director: Louis Leterrier
Theatrical release: 05/31/2013
DVD Date: 09/03/2013
Running Time: 115 minutes
Note(s): Screenplay by Ed Solomon and Boaz Yakin & Edward Ricourt.
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Review: Now You See Me is an entertaining film, but one that really doesn't quite play fair with the viewer.
The storyline is fairly complicated, obtuse even. It opens with four magicians being summoned by a mysterious stranger to a place where they learn … well, we don't know then what they learn but a year later they are known as The Four Horseman, playing to sold out audiences. The first performance we see closes with the group robbing a bank in Paris from their stage in Las Vegas, apparently in real time, showering the audience with euros purportedly taken from the bank. The FBI and Interpol are called in, but with no physical evidence to hold them, the are released. The authorities team up with a debunker of tricks, who says that their next performance (in New Orleans) is merely a setup for their final performance (in New York City). Sure enough, in New Orleans The Four Horseman fleece their sponsor, Tressler Insurance, this time "magically" adding huge sums of money to the bank accounts of the audience members. Finally, for their last performance (as predicted) they steal a safe full of cash, distributing it to the thousands of people on the street before making their getaway.
Let's start with the performances. With the possible exception of Morgan Freeman's character, there really aren't any likeable people here. All of the characters are well cast, but each and every one of them tended to grate on my nerves after a while. The Four Horseman are, I guess, supposed to be heroes, stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, but no matter how you look at it or try to justify it, they are criminals and they act like ones. The authorities come across as incompetent, never a strong point in a book or a movie.
Now the action. There is a lot of "magic", and when it suits the filmmakers, the tricks are explained in a rational manner. For the most part, it's all rather cleverly done. But when something truly impossible seems to happen, there is not a word about how it was done. This picking and choosing about what to tell the audience seems, as I mentioned in the opening paragraph, unfair to me. And then there's how the whole scheme is financed. I guess we're supposed to assume that the performances of The Four Horseman bring in enough revenue to finance the elaborate behind-the-scene stunts, but that seems far-fetched. No, there must be some deep pockets associated with that original mysterious stranger who brought the team together. And yet … at the end, that doesn't seem to be the case either. Indeed, it is the ending that I found so incredibly weak here. That the mysterious stranger turns out to be who it is isn't quite surprising nor is the reason he assembled the group; no, it is the metaphysical element of why The Four Horseman agreed to participate in the first place that bothered me the most.
So yes, Now You See Me is an entertaining film, but you can't ask too many questions of it while watching. Just sit back and enjoy the show.
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