Director: Louis Leterrier
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Isla Fisher, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine
This was one of those films that I saw the trailer and got really excited at it’s potential but kind of went in to watch it half expecting to be disappointed. Was a film that was promised to be packed with mystery, suspense, and magic too good to be true? I was happily surprised that Now You See Me delivered on all of these aspects to me and in a way, was like a real magicians’ performance in which you are kept wondering the whole time exactly how they do it.
From the very beginning in a scene in which Eisenberg’s character involves the audience in a magic trick he is performing on the screen, Now You See Me has you hooked. It begins with four street magicians (Eisenberg, Fisher, Franco, and Harrelson) being called to come together to participate in the ultimate trick. They don’t know who called them to do this, they just know that it will change the way people look at magic forever. They call themselves the Four Horsemen and credit Arthur Tressler (Caine) as their benefactor and good friend. The first trick in a series of three involves robbing a bank and then showering the audience with the stolen money. Confused and determined to figure out how they pulled it off, FBI Agent Dylan Rhodes (Ruffalo) embarks on his hardest case. He recruits the help of Thaddeus Bradley (Freeman), a once-magician who now makes his living by exposing magician’s tricks to the public. It seems like every step he takes though, the Four Horsemen are one step ahead of him.
What I loved about this movie is, as I said before, it’s like witnessing a magic show yourself. You, as an audience member, are constantly wondering just how they did it. Some of the tricks are obvious, but still please, and other tricks require a breakdown of the trick in order for us to make sense of it. This is done rather brilliantly and each time has you going “Ohhhh, yeah that makes sense.” The film’s goal was to obviously make you wonder and it certainly does. At times the tricks are a tiny bit cheesy and over the top but this is kept at a minimum and didn’t really alter my enjoyment of the film itself.
The only huge flaw that I noticed in this movie was the lack of character development. As much as I loved where the plot was going and everything, with all of the shifting perspectives it was hard to relate and come to truly like the characters. Perspective is constantly changing it seems from Agent Rhodes to the magicians and back again. In the end, the characters were the weakest part of the film. There were some that stood out, such as Ruffalo, Freeman, Harrelson and maybeeee Eisenberg, but the others just did not stick with me like those ones did. Leterrier focuses so much on trying to surprise the audience scene after scene that he forgets how important character depth is to a film.
I read a few reviews on this movie right before writing this up and surprising to me, I read a lot of complaints on the film having a substantial amount of plot holes. I would have to disagree with that one. Although, I warn you that you will be confused pretty much the whole time up until the very end when a very interesting plot twist brings everything together. I thought this reveal at the end was a very well done job at filling in all of those holes the movie created for you previously and I have to say I was truly surprised. Maybe there were a few events that were left unexplained despite this twist, but I think that might have been on purpose in order to uphold all of the mystery/magic surrounding the film in general.
All in all, this was everything you would want in a movie-going experience, with all of the action, suspense, slight humor, and of course, magic. With only the weakness of trying to shove so much into the story that character development was left out, I was very pleased. Now You See Me has all of the wonder of The Prestige mixed with all of the action and thrill of an exciting heist film and does it’s job as a summer movie to keep you entertained the whole way. Although magic tricks are always best seen the first time, this is a movie I look forward to watching a second time and more.