Now You See Me

now_you_see_me

Four magicians are assembled by a mysterious benefactor in order to pull of high stakes crimes using their skills of deception and illusion.

Unfortunately, the filmmakers aren’t as good at movie magic. “Now You See Me” is entertaining, but wouldn’t withstand the slightest scrutiny.

Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher), Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) and Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson) are all low-level magicians of one degree or another. Atlas and Reeves have stage shows, while McKinney uses his mentalist tricks to scam people and Wilder uses his magic as a distraction in order to pickpocket people. When each have invitations on tarot cards slipped to them, they find themselves brought together to form a single act, “The Four Horsemen”.

Only the Four Horsemen don’t just do magic, they rob millions of dollars during their performances.

In the middle of their first performance, the Horsemen take a member of the audience, “teleport” him to his bank vault in Paris, and let him watch as they vacuum all of the money out of the vault to shower down on the audience back in Vegas. It’s more than a trick, however, the French bank is actually robbed of millions of Euros. The FBI (represented by Mark Ruffalo) and Interpol (Mélanie Laurent) begin to investigate the group, but can’t get around the “how did they do it?” aspect of the crime. They seek assistance from an ex-magician and current magic debunker Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman), who makes his living nowadays exposing magicians secret’s and revealing how they do their tricks. With the Four Horsemen though, he may have met his match.

With the FBI and an ex-magician on their tail, will the Four Horsemen be able to get away with their high-profile crimes, or will they be put behind bars they can’t escape from?

“Now You See Me” is fast paced and fun, but so light and airy that it almost doesn’t even qualify as confectionary. My hopes for heists perpetrated by magic were dashed, as all the crimes are over simplified and the “how did they do it” aspect is loosely explained at best. The stunts that the Horsemen pull in furtherance of their crimes and in aid of their getaways are pretty preposterous, and eventually require more than your standard share of suspension of disbelief. Even if the things they do could be done, they would have had to have thought of every minute detail far in advance and have things unfold precisely as planned, and again that’s if they even could be done at all.

The cast is eminently watchable, although I admit that I was disappointed that the FBI got as much screentime or more than the Horsemen did. As much as I like Ruffalo and Laurent, I would have much preferred more time with Eisenberg, Harrelson, Fisher and Franco. Michael Caine has only couple of brief scenes as the wealthy financier who funds the Horseman’s show, but Morgan Freeman has a substantial role. Having such a loaded cast is another bit of sleight of hand from the film. You enjoy watching these people, even if the script they’re working from is flawed.

The film keeps things fast paced in order to cover its deficiencies, and it is fairly fun if you’re willing to experience the film unquestioningly. Unfortunately, the final act was disappointing to me, especially the revelation of the identity of the puppet master pulling the Horsemen’s strings. Between that and the fact that the heist/magic elements were so thin, I found myself mildly disappointed, even though there’s still a decent amount of entertainment to be had.

B

Daniel Fogarty

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48 thoughts on “Now You See Me

  1. I saw the trailer a couple of months ago and thought the film had the chance to go either way… I reckon I’m going to feel a bit disappointed, like you. But I’ll also still probably go and see it :)

  2. So what this sounds like with the more than kind B score is another trite Hollywood sleight of hand that wastes the time of the viewer.

    Stuffing the mulitplex, its always about stuffing the multiplex LOL

    • Definitely shouldnt be atop anybody’s watchlist. I was hoping for better from it too. Still worth watching if you dont have anything better to check out, but I’m not as enthusiastic about it as I had hoped to be :(

  3. I enjoyed this very much. No more suspended disbelief was required than “Iron Man”, “Star Trek” or “Man of Steel”. We don’t question how they do the things they do, if we did the movie premise would fail. “See Me” had plenty of action, thrills and twists but more than that, it was original work. The explanations given were fine if quick, after all the film had to have pace and not bog down.
    The pluses for me were the twist at the end, the indictment of criminal bankers and the pain they brought people everywhere and the righteous sense of payback! For me, and the Mrs., this movie was magic!

    • I enjoyed the “sticking it to the man” aspect myself, but I can’t say I enjoyed the reveal you mention. I thought that was a big let down.

      I think I DID question how they do the things they did… or at least I longed for a little more plausibility, and that’s why I was more disappointed in it than you were. If you’re willing not to get bogged down, as you say, this movie was relatively fun, thus the B ;)

  4. Saw this one last night and pretty much agree with your score. The heist and magic elements kept me mostly entertained and interested for an after-work treat, but the ending disappointed me quite a bit. For a story like this you need a big, flashy, exciting ending — and to me the final reveal came too early, with too much explanation afterward. Much better to show the action and let the audience leave the theater while we’re still high from the big surprise, instead of expounding on it so much.

    Part of me was kind of hoping that the tarot cards would play a bigger role in each of the horsemen’s story archs — and I think it might have been a stronger story if they’d done that — but with the exception of Franco I didn’t really get how they embodied the cards they had.

    • Yeah, the ending undercut a lot of what the film had built unfortunately, I thought. It was a bit “cheap” to me. :( As you mention though, the heist and magic elements were entertaining enough to hold your interest.

      I wasnt interested in the Tarot cards so much, but a big disappointment for me was that we didnt get more of the Horsemen and got too much of the people trying to stop them!

  5. Good review Fogs. I was entertained for the most part, and I liked to see what the cast had to do with these roles, but I still couldn’t help but feel like I got a bit cheated at the end. It rarely makes sense, and I think that’s the point. Just be confusing to be confusing, hoping people won’t notice your manipulative ways. At least that was my view, anyway.

    • You’re right on, Dan. I found it funny that a movie about bs’ing Magicians was full of so much slight of hand BS itself. LOL They tried to be flashy and fast and hoped people wouldn’t notice that everything didn’t exactly make sense. :( And you’re right… the end was a cheat! 8O

      Still, I had enough fun with it to call it a decent rental or cable movie for folks…

  6. Hi, Fogs:

    It sounds like the film used the criminal vetting and briefing system from the original ‘Thomas Crown Affair’.Mixed it with glitzy, eye popping glimpses of ‘Catch Me if You Can’ and created an airy, flavorless crepe. Where the overblown illusions are cooler than the heist itself.

    My cooking cliche expertise. Let me show you it!

  7. I caught this one on the weekend and I was disappointed. I also wanted more screen time with the magicians, and expected that the plot would be more about their robberies and less about the FBI chase to catch them.
    And it was a really sad excuse for an ending… it felt like the writers had this idea but no idea how to deliver it properly.

    • Yup, yup, yup, yup and yup…

      But at the end of the day, even though I was disappointed (compared to what I would have liked to have seen) I still had to admit it was a fairly decent watch and give it an ok grade. Though I WAS tempted to give it the -

  8. Thanks for the review! One of our writers thought very highly of this and will be reviewing it soon. I did have one of those head-cocked sideways reactions to Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenburg paired together. Sounds like the movie spent as much or more time on the FBI, but I’m curious how Woody and Jesse (insert Toy Story joke here) did with on-screen chemistry? That could be a cool pairing I think.

    • Woody and Jesse were fine together, they just weren’t given enough time onscreen! Loved them in Zombieland, too, I thought I would get a little more of that…

      It was ok, I wouldnt get carried away with it. There are numerous flaws that need to be acknowledged before recommeding it, IMO. :(

  9. well stated Fogs. I’m not sure if there’s anyone who is going to appreciate the final reveal….I literally heard two or three other people in rows behind me let out a groan of disbelief when it happened, and that was while i was quietly swearing under my breath. like i said, there’s a sucker born every minute. and i finally found out that I too was one of them. still, though, i’ll agree as well and say it was fun while it lasted.

    • I thought the same thing, Tom, but there was a commenter earlier who said he enjoyed the reveal, so I guess it’ll find at least some people who like it.

      Personally I was with the groaners. :roll: LOL

      Still, on the balance of things, it was entertaining enough… I have to admit I liked it for the most part.

    • I’ll agree to those two things, unfortunately the concept and the cast weren’t where any shortcomings were at. LOL. Overall it was still decent, but there’s a load of issues, I think. :(

  10. Pingback: Now You See Me Review: The Closer You Look, The Less You See | Rorschach Reviews

  11. Pingback: A Filmster Quickie: Now You See Me | The Filmster

    • I enjoyed it myself, but I have to temper my enthusiasm. I think the preposterousness worked much better for Fast and Furious 6. Just because the F&F series does preposterous well doesn’t mean I endorse it for ALL movies.

      Here, any time they ventured into preposterous territory, it was to the movies detriment, unfortunately. Still, fun movie. Don’t think about it too hard and you’ll enjoy it type stuff.

  12. yeah, I think a “B” is fair. one could sit and scrutinize this and poke holes in all of the plots points, but the magic and the heists still make it rather entertaining.

    sadly, Morgan Freeman’s character was pretty…um…annoying I think is the right word.

    • Freeman’s character was a bit of a dick, definitely. Neat to see him play the bad guy though, we’re not used to that!

      “rather entertaining” is a good phrase for it T. It was alright, but nothing spectacular…

  13. NOT magical–at all!

    What a shame–so much potential (fighting scene with MAGIC?! Cool.) But, unfortunately it is very shallow and empty. Entertaining–to a certain point, for sure–but this is all flash and NO substance. Like eating popcorn–empty calories. :D

    I wish we would have gotten to KNOW these people. Something. Anything, They were just set pieces. A waste of a perfectly good cast.

    So, yeah…you can see how I felt…

    Later, Fogs! :)

    • Empty calories is right, except that people still like eating popcorn ;) LOL So I had to point out that it was enjoyable. Didn’t sound as if you had a good time with it at all.

      I definitely agree that it was a waste of a great premise and a great cast, though. There’s absolutely no arguing that this movie could have been WAY better! 8O

  14. Well, you like this a lot more than I did Fogs. I was somewhat entertained but when the final act was revealed I thought it was so lame. The more I think about this film the more I dislike it.

    • The end WAS lame, there’s no doubt. But still, I had fun enough along the way to give it a marginal grade… it’s no threat to make my top ten list or anything, but I certainly didn’t hate it ;)

  15. Totally agree about the final reveal, it was surprising for sure but it just didn’t quite fit in with the rest of the movie. Movies like this really have to earn their twists, and that one didn’t feel earned at all. Good review :)

    • It was a total cheat! LOL. You cant do THAT… it just undermines the entire movie!

      Still, I was able to get by it I guess. I found it decently entertaining at the end of the day…

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