May 31st, 2013
Release length: 1:55:00
The plot is rather simple, a group of street magicians are brought together to become a team known as “The Four Horsemen.” The person who put them together, however, is unknown, but still gives them specific instructions on who to target. After they rob a bank overseas, Interpol is brought in to work with the FBI to find out how they were able to pull it all off, and put a stop to them. After a few more tricks, including one that takes a Robin Hood twist, more is revealed about a secret society that protects true magic, known as “The Eye.” From here, a shift occurs from them being simple scammers to having a purpose, which is to join this group.
But, despite an FBI agent and employee of Interpol, they have to deal with Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman), a former magician who makes money at revealing the secrets of other magicians. His role is to support the two and help them work to capturing the four, and looking at the big picture to try to be one step ahead. At the same time, he’s also trying to figure out how these tricks are being pulled off, revealing it all a little too late and becoming the film’s red herring. He also plays a role in the grand scheme of the tale by being the reason for a former magician’s death during a stunt to try to revive his career after it came crashing down.
While the whole point of the film was based around “The Eye,” it felt more like it was tacked on to cater to the teenage dramas hitting theatres like Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. It was a noble intent to add a little more to the film, and perhaps leave it open to a sequel, or perhaps even a franchise. However, the twist that occurs at the end is perfect without the desire of including a secret society and supposedly real form of magic, all of which is revealed in a way that links all the theft victims together. But, if you take this out of the equation entirely, it wouldn’t hinder a single thing. In fact, it would allow a little breathing room for the story, something that would have been a great benefit given how this flick progresses like an eight year with ADHD on a sugar rush half the time to make the unnecessarily complex story fit to just under two hours.
This does leave a good amount of detachment between the viewer and its characters. The Four Horsemen are likeable for the most part, and that’s thanks to the actors and how they play off one another, though the ringleader to this is usually member J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), who plays the fast talker of the group. Some of the best banter, however, is between him and Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson), thanks to his ability to read people, as well as Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher), due to her working for him in the past as his assistant. Jack Wilder (Dave Franco), however, serves little purpose other than to round out the group to an even number. Aside some short clips of street magic at the start of the film, there is no background to any of these characters, leaving them just that: characters. This is a shame since, had there been a little more time to build them up, these individuals would really stand out, making things like the big twist reveal or the death scene for one of them a lot more dramatic and emotional instead of just being an emotionless event you’ll immediately shrug off.
As mentioned, the film does look rather sleek, and it is handled in a highly stylish manner. Much of the CGI used is done with purpose to give the environment a digital, hi-tech appearance, such as the transportation device from the first trick, and even some of the reveals or later illusions like Henley float in a bubble on stage. For once, using computer graphics instead of practical effects actually works in favor of the movie, a rare exception any more in a world where everything from nipples to running sheep have to put in with computers instead of using the real thing.
Now You See Me has a lot going on to make it a fantastic movie. It’s far from a bad flick, saved largely by the acting and some well timed jokes. However, the modern form of story telling in feature films today is what hurts it. The fast paced approach does lead to fast action, but it just moves way too quick to cover more ground than what needed to exist. What would have been a sleek and stylish entry into the crime and mystery genre turns itself into a modern day Robin Hood meets Percy Jackson release that is only pushed further by the Mardi Gras scene that goes out of its way to avoid showing the tits of the women flashing for beads. But, in the end, it is one of the better films 2013 has churned out, and is worth seeing if crime solving and/or magic are your thing.
|Overall Score: 6.5/10